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ABB: tests show up to 27% fuel savings on ship with Onboard DC Grid

Dina Star with Onboard DC Grid. Click to enlarge.

ABB, the power and automation technology group, released third-party testing results showing that ABB’s Onboard DC Grid helps vessels reduce their fuel consumption, cut noise and trim their environmental impact. The measurements and tests, conducted by Pon Power in collaboration with ABB on Myklebusthaug Offshore’s platform supply vessel Dina Star, identified reduction of specific fuel oil consumption of up to 27%. (Earlier post.)

Dina Star is powered by four Caterpillar 3516 engines in combination with a C32 in a variable speed application. These are the first documented results from a vessel outfitted with ABB’s Onboard DC Grid, which allows engines to run at variable speeds for top fuel efficiency at each load level.

Traditional propulsion system. Click to enlarge.   Onboard DC Grid system. Click to enlarge.

The tests also measured fuel consumption in dynamic positioning operations during challenging weather conditions, identifying fuel savings of 14%. Dynamic positioning operations, where computers automatically maintain a vessel’s position and heading, account for a considerable portion of a typical offshore vessel’s operational profile.

In addition to fuel consumption, Pon Power and ABB measured Onboard DC Grid’s effect on engine room noise levels. Tests showed 30% noise reduction, contributing to improved working conditions aboard the vessel.

Our Onboard DC Grid is a significant step forward for electric propulsion. We are pleased that the concept delivered results that exceed our expectations. Onboard DC Grid is a competitive advantage to ship owners operating a wide range of ship types from offshore vessels to ferries and yachts seeking to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

—Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division

ABB introduced the innovative Onboard DC Grid power distribution system in 2011. Platform support vessel Dina Star, delivered to Myklebusthaug Management by Kleven Yard in 2013, is the first vessel powered by the Onboard DC Grid. ABB’s Onboard DC Grid power distribution system was granted “Approval in Principle by American Bureau of Shipping” in January 2014.

ABB’s Onboard DC Grid concept. ABB’s Onboard DC Grid distributes power through a single DC circuit providing significant power savings while also improving the safety and redundancy compared with traditional AC systems.

By distributing electricity in DC, the Onboard DC Grid system allows engines to be operated at different speeds. As a result, the fuel consumption and emissions are reduced significantly in comparison with traditional propulsion systems. The system also allows for improved dynamic response of the engines.

The Onboard DC Grid also facilitates use of batteries and other energy storage devices which further improve the energy efficiency and reduction of emissions.


Roger Pham

With distributed generation with local solar PV, wind and backed up by local H2-FC for power and heat cogeneration, perhaps the local grid for houses and building can also go DC with similar benefits to those above. Inverters can be used for machines that must run on 60Hz AC.


DC would be a benefit if only because a modern grid can cut gross power consumption by 9%. An additional 25% cut is now achievable with bus line capacitors. Even more with variable phase motors, in case you want to run the HVAC and fridge at very low power. Never mind the solar.

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