The company’s Variable Frequency Active Front-End power and propulsion system (VF-AFE) controls engine speed and can result in fuel savings of up to $300,000 per year, GE says.
And its Inovelis system (pictured) draws in water and then forcibly ejects it out through a nozzle — the marine equivalent of a jet engine, but one that can be pointed in any direction. The company says under certain conditions, the engine can deliver up to $250,000 in fuel savings a year.
Conventional ship engine’s speed remains constant, even when the load is reduced. This means the ship is using more energy than it needs because the pistons continue to run at unnecessarily high speeds, says Paul English, marine leader of GE Power Conversion. The VF-AFE recovers this lost efficiency and reduces emissions and maintenance requirements by enabling ship owners using conventional power system components to lower engine speeds when feasible.
Additionally, VF-AFE systems will be Visor-enabled, which means that GE engineers will be able to monitor them remotely. GE says it will use Visor for maintenance purposes and to make further improvements to the system.
GE’s other new product, Inovelis, incorporates an electrically powered propeller with its motor housed within a steerable pod mounted beneath the hull of an offshore vessel. It incorporates all the assets of a podded thruster, including maneuverability, responsiveness and fuel economy.
Based on pump jet principles, it uses fixed stator vanes and a nozzle that act together to guide the water flow across the impeller blades, which GE says enhance propulsion efficiency. Its compactness also improves the ships’ fuel economy and reduces emissions.
English says that Inovelis has the potential to permit ship designers to incorporate reduced capacity power plant — fewer cylinders or smaller engines — when designing offshore vessels.