Propeller blade retrofit brings big fuel and CO2 savings

Written by Nick Blenkey
Vessel in dry dock with optimized propellers

Propeller blades were optimized after analysis of ship's operating profile.

After a recent retrofit to optimize the design of its propeller blades, a Vroon BV containership is achieving significant savings in fuel consumption and emissions.

As part of its strategy to lower CO2 emissions ahead of IMO Energy Efficiency Index (EEXI) and Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) deadlines, Vroon turned to Berg Propulsion to investigate the possibility of optimizing the propulsion system on its container vessel, MV Indian Express, which was fitted with a controllable pitch propeller originally manufactured by ZF.

“In close cooperation with the ship owner and ship operator, we analyzed the vessel’s current and future operation needs and defined its operation profile,” says David Sakandelidze, Berg Propulsion’s business manager—energy and efficiency. “Next, the performance of the original propeller blades was benchmarked against the vessel’s defined operation profile.”

Berg Propulsion’s advanced simulation tools were then used to develop a new propeller geometry, which modeling showed would achieve remarkably superior performance the new operation profile anticipated for the ship.

In line with these findings, Berg Propulsion designed blades tailored for the operation, improving efficiency significantly’

“Efficiency gains are made for much of the time and, at 12 knots, the new blades achieve up to 50% higher efficiency than the ones they replace,” says Sakandelidze.

With performance improved at the speeds most commonly required during operations, modeling indicate Indian Express would achieve an astonishing 22% fuel saving overall, as well as lower emissions that should go farther than the requirements of the IMO’s carbon Intensity Initiative goals for 2026.

“We have recently put a new focus on CII and EEXI and supporting customers to improve and optimize vessels already in operation,” says Jonas Nyberg, managing director, west at Berg Propulsion. “We are excited to partner our customers, and to help them become more efficient while reducing their environmental footprint.”

Berg’s focus targets hydrodynamic upgrades such as blade optimization, control system upgrades such as installing an engine pitch and rpm optimization system, Dynamic Drives, and electrical upgrades to run shaft alternators with variable frequency coupled with energy storage, says Nyberg.

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