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ABB’s new electric propulsion mimics whale tail movement

Article-ABB’s new electric propulsion mimics whale tail movement

Image: ABB ABB-whale-fin-propulsion.jpeg
A new form of electric propulsion, ABB DynafinTM, was unveiled yesterday by the Swiss-based multinational.

Likely to become commercially available soon after the middle of the decade, the technology will offer a range of installation and operational benefits ABB says.

ABB Dynafin, which the company says, “mimics the movements of a whale tail”, will initially provide significant benefits for vessels including ferries, cruise ships, and offshore wind support vessels. However, as the technology develops, a wider range of ships will benefit from the electric setup which, according to an independent study, can reduce energy consumption by up to 22% compared with a conventional shaft line.

The system is designed around a main electric motor that turns a large wheel rotating at 30-80 revolutions per minute. Individually controlled vertical blades extend from the wheel, creating both propulsion and positioning forces at the same time. The setup is a further development of ABB’s gearless power transmission.

Developed over the last ten years and based on permanent magnet electric motors, the new technology’s benefits include a smaller footprint, fewer components, low maintenance costs, wider operational windows, quick response time aiding effective dynamic positioning, and open water efficiency of up to 85%.

The power range is currently 1-4 MW and two units are required. Ultimately, the system is likely to be developed for larger vessels, with a power range from 2–16 MW. 

Revealing details of the new technology yesterday, the company described ABB Dynafin as the next step in electric propulsion development, building on the success of its Azipod propulsion systems, now in operation for more than three decades. More than 700 installations are in operation today.

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