Carbon fiber cuts weight of new Rolls-Royce thrusters

Written by Nick Blenkey
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MAY 25, 2016 — A new generation of high performance, lightweight steerable thrusters being delivered to Italian yacht builder Benetti by Rolls-Royce makes extensive use of carbon fiber material for the first time.

The new Azipull Carbon 65 (AZP C65) uses carbon fiber material for load carrying parts, resulting in a substantial reduction of the propulsion system’s weight. The new thrusters also facilitate a better vessel lay out while maintaining high propulsion efficiency, excellent maneuvering capabilities and easy maintenance.

Designed initially for fast yachts, with further applications in passenger vessels and workboats, the Azipull Carbon brings to the market a lightweight, reliable and highly efficient propulsion system with very low noise and vibration levels.

The first thruster in the series, AZP C65, is designed for a power rating of 2 MW and fitted with a fixed pitch, pulling type propeller – meaning the propeller faces forward. The driveline is designed with two spiral bevel gear sets, installed in a supporting structure that ensures optimum load carrying capacity in all operating conditions. The thruster can be steered using a hydraulic system.

An Automation and Control system, based on Rolls-Royce’s Common Controls building blocks, has also been developed to match the new thrusters, which weigh only 2,800 kg (dry) each.

“Efficient and lightweight propulsion is key to reducing the environmental impact of a modern yacht,” says Vincenzo Poerio, Benetti, CEO. “We have been working closely with Rolls-Royce on a journey towards an excellent propulsion system for our new line of exclusive megayachts. The successful result of this collaboration has been confirmed by facts, indeed five units have already been sold and more units are already under construction to shorten delivery times and meet the increasing demand for this model.”

Gary Nutter, Rolls-Royce, EVP Propulsion and Engines, said: “This new development has greatly benefitted from the very good cooperation we have had with Azimut Benetti. Their skills as a yacht builder and their engagement with us in creating the perfect vessel is an inspiration.”

The contract covers a number of thrusters, planned for delivery over the next three years and delivered to RINA Rules for Classification of Yachts. The first yacht, a 125 ft Fast Displacement called Ironman has already been delivered. Hulls two and three are under construction with delivery expected in the next few months.

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