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Ricardo Forms Ship Efficiency & Energy Storage Assessment Consortium; Believes Operational Fuel Consumption Reductions of 15-25% Are Possible

Ricardo has formed the Ship Efficiency & Energy Storage Assessment consortium (SeEsA). This pre-competitive consortium will investigate energy management of marine propulsion and auxiliary power systems and identify potential technology solutions appropriate for the requirements of applications including cruise liners, ro-ro ferries, tankers, bulk carriers, container ships, and offshore facility supply and navy vessels.

By implementing next-generation energy management and propulsion technologies, Ricardo believes that operational fuel consumption reductions of between 15 and 25% are possible compared with conventional existing marine propulsion configurations.

In addition to meeting existing and future perceived needs, the flexibility of propulsion configurations in the face of potentially changing operating requirements will also be considered.

The work of the consortium will be arranged in a modular format with partners subscribing to a core program of work which can be adapted and augmented to meet their specific needs. The first phase will focus in assessing the best energy storage solution combined with advanced energy recovery systems for a complete propulsion system under different operating conditions including normal operation, slow steaming and up to three additional duty cycles that the consortium members agree as most relevant to their needs.

The range of energy storage solutions will include conventional and state-of-the art battery technologies and ultracapacitors, flywheel-based systems, thermal and pressure based storage, fuel reformers and liquid nitrogen (LN2) systems.

The prime movers covered will include diesel and gas engines, and gas and steam turbine systems, with auxiliary power systems also including possible fuel cells and Stirling engine applications.

The second phase will focus on a more detailed analysis and investigate the efficiency of the sub-systems including engine combustion and air handling methods. Technologies considered will include advanced air handling and combustion solutions, with a view to identifying how future ship operational practice can be optimized as the economic climate changes and legislative frameworks evolve.

The international maritime industry is facing the twin challenge of meeting the needs of emissions regulation in a range of jurisdictions as well as a sharp increase in the cost of energy for both propulsion and on-board systems. Through the SeEsA consortium we aim to assist vessel designers, specifiers, owners and fleet operators ensure that their existing and future fleets are optimized for future energy storage and efficiency while meeting legislative requirements and operational needs.

—Ricardo plc group commercial director Steve Clarke

The SeEsA consortium is formally launched but will remain open to applications from prospective members throughout the duration of the work. Organizations wishing to register an interest in participating in Phase 1 or in any of the future modules, or to obtain further information, should contact


fred schumacher

Considering that steady-state operation makes up the vast majority of marine propulsion, I wouldn't think that energy recovery has much to offer.

The biggest energy loss comes from converting the rotational force of the engine into forward motion. The screw propeller has been the standard solution for the past century and a half, but flapping foil propulsion, as used by marine animals, has much higher propulsive efficiency. Although there has been research in this field, I know of no working commercial systems that have been developed.

Two other areas of research that would produce greater results are the reduction of skin friction at low Froude numbers and reduction of form drag at high Froude numbers.


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