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Green Technologies Explored in Retrofit Three-Year Study


A wide-scale industry project ‘RETROFIT’, which aimed to determine efficient methods and tools for retrofitting existing ships with green technologies, has drawn to a close after three years.

The RETROFIT consortium was created by 14 partners, including ship operators, system suppliers, shipyards, engineering companies and knowledge institutes, from seven different countries. Imtech Marine was one of the initiators of the project, which was funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.

René Nuijten, Imtech Marine consultant, explains that the research group wanted to examine the application of green technologies such as using LNG fuel and scrubbers in an existing vessel and through simulation models review and benchmark them against existing applications. The overall results show that fuel savings up to 5% can realistically be achieved.

A RoRo ferry built by NAVANTIA Astillero San Fernando-Puerto Real, and owned and operated by Acciona Trasmediterranea on the Cádiz-Canary Islands route was chosen as a test case vessel. Built in 2010, the 31,000gt ferry has a diesel mechanical twin-screw controllable pitch propeller and is designed for 26 knots, though its actual operational speed is 19.6 knots.

RORO vessel

Optimal trimming

Imtech Marine and Wärtsilä worked closely together during the project. Several different configurations for the ferry were considered which included using LNG as a fuel for the two main engines and the two generators, electric cold ironing using an LNG generator, maximising Power Take Off on the main engines, using scrubbers to reduce SOx emissions, using solar panels, batteries when in the harbour, trim adjustment and speed optimisation.

A ‘Decision Support System’ prototype for energy use on board ships, including trimming options, was installed, which automatically finds the optimum way of saving fuel. Imtech Marine was responsible for implementing the support system and new architecture for the technology. Everything measured on board of a ship is connected to either the navigation system or the alarm & monitoring system, both installed by Imtech Marine. Basically these two systems form the ‘brain’ or ‘heart’ of the ship. To integrate these systems in a smart way the required cabling was reduced with approximately 80% for this retrofit. Normally there would be at least 15 cables installed but we reduced this to just two.’

Remote connection

As well as installing the system, Imtech Marine equipped the vessel with a remote connection to collect data and extract it via the Internet to a server onshore. ‘The new architecture and remote monitoring means that all the stakeholders - from the owners to the ship managers - can see the fuel consumption of the vessel –from their offices ashore.’
Monitoring fuel consumption has enabled the company to find potential fuel savings of 0.8% by only optimising the ship’s trim. ‘This is a small efficiency but makes it possible to get a return on investment in only one year!’

Imtech has already installed the new integrated architecture on a merchant vessel, but it is suitable for most vessel types and offshore structures.

‘The project was a success and certainly showed that retrofitting can be beneficial,” he adds. The project’s close was marked with a ‘To retrofit or not to retrofit’ Conference held on January 20th in Rotterdam, where Imtech Marine and Wärtsilä held a joint presentation.’
For more information on the RETROFIT project see also

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