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Wednesday, July 1, 2020 

On 1 July in Harlingen, the Netherlands, Dutch shipping company Doeksen officially commissioned the ‘Willem Barentz’, the first of its two new 70m ferries, powered by MTU gas-only engines.

The twin 16-cylinder MTU gas engines, with combined output of about 3,000kW, are variations of the MTU gas engines developed for power generation applications. The marine version though has been designed to operate safely and reliably with transient loads, so can be used to drive a fixed propeller, unlike the standard engine which is optimised for constant load, as when powering a generator.

Emissions from the MTU gas engines fall considerably below the current IMO III NOx limits without the need for exhaust aftertreatment – with particle mass, for example, lying under the detection threshold. Furthermore, thanks to the pure gas fuel, the engine emits no sulphur oxides and only very small quantities of nitrogen oxide, while performance is closely comparable to a diesel unit.

The 'green' credentials are important give that the Willem Barentz and its sister vessel, due to be delivered later this year, operate on the Wadden Sea – a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Paul Melles, MD of the Doeksen shipping company, said: “I'm really impressed with the MTU gas engines. So far, they’ve met all our expectations in terms of performance, transient response behaviour, smooth travel and low noise. Rolls-Royce has developed the very first single-fuel gas engine that can drive a fixed propeller directly and is therefore capable of dynamic acceleration. That was the advantage that really made the difference for us”

“We're very proud that the Doeksen shipping company has chosen our new gas engines for eco-friendly operation of their ferries on the Wadden Sea, which is recognised as worthy of special environmental protection,” said Knut Müller, head of marine and governmental business, Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “Joining forces with them as our partner, we will be focusing our efforts on driving the energy turnaround.”

The pair of Wadden Sea ferries were built in Vietnam at the Strategic Marine shipyard. Following the Willem Barentsz, its sister, the Willem de Vlamingh, will be added in September to the fleet, which will then count eight vessels in total. The two new arrivals will each have the capacity to transport up to 600 passengers and 64 cars across the Wadden Sea to the West Frisian islands. The main propulsion systems of the two new catamarans comprise twin MTU high-speed 16-cylinder Series 4000 gas units delivering 1,492kW. Directly driving fixed pitch azimuthing propellers, the engines enable the vessels to reach cruising speeds of 14 knots.

The new gas engine is considered suitable for tugboats, ferries, cargo vessels and specialist vessels such as research ships. From the beginning of its development, the focus was on fuel consumption, emissions, safety and acceleration. The gas units are furthermore equipped with multipoint fuel injection, dynamic engine control and enhanced turbo-charging. Multipoint fuel injection caters for dynamic acceleration capabilities, high power output and reduced emissions. By controlling the combustion process, it offers the advantage of higher fuel efficiency. Since the gas system has double walls, the engine room can still be laid out more or less as for diesel-based propulsion.

A pair of 746-kW, 8-cylinder versions of the gas engine have been supplied to the City of Constance public utility for a new Lake Constance ferry, which is planned to be commissioned during the upcoming winter.

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