Removable bow turns tugboat into icebreaker

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Motorized bow enables tugboat to break ice up to 70 cm thick

A project with the potential to make any ice-strengthened vessel into an icebreaker (see earlier story) is moving right along.

The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA) has now converted the tugboat Calypso into an icebreaker concept boat equipped with an innovative hybrid motorized removable icebreaking bow powered by Danfoss Editron.

The vessel is currently moored in Mustola harbor in Lappeenranta and has begun operating on Lake Saimaa and the deep waterways of the surrounding area this winter.

The removable bow, the world’s largest motorized unit of its kind, has been delivered by Turku Repair Yard as part of the Winter Navigation Motorways of the Sea II project. The EUR 7.6 million (about $9.3 million) scheme, cofunded by the EU Connecting Europe Facility program

One of the project’s key targets was the creation of a motorized icebreaking removable bow concept, which would enable ice-strengthened vessels to be used as icebreakers during the winter. This specific bow is capable of breaking ice up to 70 cm thick.

Danfoss Editron’s hybrid-electric system is powering the removable bow with two generators, built as a DC system, and two propulsion systems. The company has also provided a front supercapacitor so that peak powers can be efficiently controlled. The Editron software also cuts fuel and delivers high efficiencies as the diesel generators in the DC system can be driven at variable speeds. The power plan and propulsion system of the removable bow have been designed to be operated from the pusher tug wheelhouse, while the machinery can operate unmanned.

Kari Savolainen, Project Manager at Danfoss Editron, commented:

“We have operations in Lappeenranta, so we can see first-hand how harsh winter conditions directly impact shipping transport. This new kind of removable bow will make the whole industry more efficient and sustainable, as it will enable virtually any kind of tug to become an icebreaker ship. Our Editron system is easily adaptable for future optimizations and we are eager to learn more about our supercapacitor’s ability to control the peak powers.”

Juuso Kummala, Industry Line Director at FTIA, added:

“Lake Saimaa’s ice is more solid than sea ice and can reach up to 80cm thick. Developing this innovative design concept for the removable bow and equipping it with its own propulsion system will achieve savings in capital costs, as we will charter the pusher for only part of the year. We are also expecting to see savings in fuel consumption thanks to Danfoss Editron’s hybrid propulsion system.”

As winter temperatures in Finland can plummet to -30°C, icebreakers are a necessity even during mild winters. Introducing hybrid electric power in icebreaking operations will help the country meet its target to lower emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

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