‘Radical’ propulsion system from ABB

By Jack Burke31 May 2023

ABB Dynafin inspired by movement of whale’s tail

ABB said its new ABB Dynafin system was inspired by the movement of a whale’s tale. The electric-drive propulsion system will be available in 2025, the company said. (Image: ABB)

ABB said its new ABB Dynafin marine propulsion system prototype was inspired by the dynamic motions of a whale’s tail and is the result of over a decade of research, development, and testing.

ABB estimates the first prototype to be available in 2025.

The new propulsion concept features a main electric motor that powers a large wheel rotating at a moderate 30-80 rounds per minute. Vertical blades, each controlled by an individual motor and control system, extend from the wheel. The combined motion of the wheel and blades generates propulsion and steering forces simultaneously, enabling ground-breaking operational efficiency and precision for ships, the company said.

The concept follows ABB’s design philosophy in marine propulsion of gearless power transmission. An independent study of ABB Dynafin from OSK-ShipTech A/S of a passenger vessel design equipped with different propulsion solutions has verified savings in propulsion energy consumption of up to 22% compared to conventional shaftline configuration, the company said.

As part of an electric propulsion power system, the concept is also fully compatible with zero-emission battery and fuel cell technologies. Initially available in the power range of 1–4 MW per unit, the new propulsion concept is particularly effective for medium-sized and smaller vessels, including ferries for passengers and vehicles, offshore support vessels operating at wind farms, and yachts.

“ABB Dynafin shows what is possible when marine engineers pursue radical innovation and progress, inspired by the interplay of evolution and technology,” said Juha Koskela, Division President, ABB Marine & Ports. “This solution is all about operational efficiency and emissions avoidance, leveraging innovations from the brightest minds in marine and propulsion engineering. I want to thank the whole team for their persistence, resilience, innovativeness, and years of hard work.”

The company said that by reducing vibrations and noise levels, the system improves passenger and crew comfort. In addition, the propulsion concept delivers superior maneuverability, and positioning performance.

The new concept is the latest addition to ABB’s portfolio comprising electric, automated and digital technologies. 

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