Beginning in 2019, a car ferry in service on Lake Constance, Germany, will be equipped with two gas engines utilizing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a fuel.
The project between the city of Constance public utility and Rolls-Royce Power Systems aims at testing gas-fueled marine propulsion technology in inland waterway passenger vessels. The new car ferry will be equipped with twin eight-cylinder MTU Series 4000 gas engines, each delivering 746 kW. The two companies said this will be the first inland waterway passenger vessel in Europe to be propelled by high-speed gas engines.
A cooperation agreement between the two companies was signed June 9, covering a two-year trial of the propulsion system in the ferry under continuous service conditions with both partners collating data.
“This flagship project is being realized on our local ferry service between the towns of Meersburg and Constance, which allows us to demonstrate the effectiveness of our new technology and set an international trend right on our doorstep,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “We firmly believe that in shipping, gas engines are set to play a pivotal role as a backup to well-proven diesel engine technology.”
Rolls-Royce Power Systems reported that compared to a diesel engine without exhaust gas aftertreatment, a gas engine emits no soot, no sulfur oxides, 90% fewer nitric oxides and 10% fewer greenhouse gases. This enables it to comply with IMO Tier 3 marine emissions standard that came into force last year without the need for additional exhaust aftertreatment. It is also equal to the diesel engine in terms of performance and dynamics, the company said.
“The first ships were steam-powered, then diesel engines took over for roughly a century, but now gas engines are to determine the course of marine propulsion in the future,” said Norbert Reuter, head of the Constance public utility. “The shuttle service we provide between Constance and Meersburg saves some 80 million kilometers of road travel each year, and with this new ferry we are making our service even more ecologically sound. Thanks to this partnership, we are assuming a pioneering role in the region of Lake Constance and beyond, since no passenger vessel on the inland waterways of Europe has yet achieved the certification we are striving for.”
The Series 4000 gas-powered high-speed marine engine was presented by MTU in July 2016, after a 16-cylinder engine version had completed 3000 hours on the test bench. That same engine has now completed 4000 operating hours on the test stand and the first pre-series units are scheduled for delivery at the end of 2017. The first 16-cylinder engines are going to be delivered to the Strategic Marine shipyard in Vietnam where they will be installed in catamarans for the Dutch operator Doeksen.
At the time of the engine introduction, Rolls-Royce Power Systems said that the spark-ignited gas engine adopts multi-point (MPI) gas injection valves for a higher flexibility in managing the injected air/gas mixture. With this system it is possible to control several parameters, such as the start of injection and gas rail pressure, which are keys to obtaining combustion stability at each engine operating point.
The MTU 16-cylinder Series 4000 gas engine will cover a power range from 1500 to 2000 kW and is based on the MTU 16V 4000 M63 diesel engine for workboats, MTU said. The eight-cylinder engine version, utilized for the first time in the Lake Costance ferry has ratings from 750 to 1000 kW.