Supporting Solutions for Future Mobility
From the beginning of human civilization, transportation has been an important driver for economies. The question is, how to create mobility solutions for future transportation while fulfilling the today requirements for low GHG emissions, efficiency, and economic boundaries? LHP Europe is working in various fields to support solutions for future mobility and the transportation of goods.
The supply chain will continue to start with transportation over large distances to connect continents. The most efficient and environmentally friendly solution for this is container vessels. Second, the goods are transported to smaller containers, trains, and/or long-haul trucks until distributed to the consumers in urban or rural areas. Today, we like to describe the global transportation solution of goods with maritime container vessels.
International Transportation of Goods
Far more than 90% of all goods for the international trade are transported over the seas. In most cases, there are standardized containers that help reach the most efficient transit times. Fixed lines and a fixed schedule help keep the traffic of container vessels managed, and only very large harbors are destinations for the lines. From there, the containers can be distributed to smaller container vessels, also known as “container feeders”. Containers can be distributed to smaller sea harbors or via rivers to different cities.
Large container vessels amount to about 10% of the GHG emissions within the transport sector. Efficiency improvement, route optimization, and lower GHG fuels will be required to reduce the impact of these large container vessels on the environment. LHP offers capability to address these requirements through IoT, data analytics, autonomous navigation, and powertrain technology.
Optimized Solutions and Parameters
The definition of the global lines and the fixing of parameters is a very complex process. LHP Europe assists shipping companies in finding the right number of destinations and the right choice of ship parameters such as vessel size, number of vessels, and average speed.
LHP Europe has developed dedicated software solutions that aid companies in finding optimized solutions for commercial targets and energy consumption. In addition, LHP Europe supports experienced naval officers with IOT and data analytic solutions. These solutions optimize their cruise parameters such as vessel speed, ocean current, and weather situation to find the actual optimized trajectories. Most importantly, this leads officers in reaching the destination point in record time, using the minimal amount of energy.
Technology’s Role in Modern Container Vessels
Modern container vessels are equipped with assistance systems such as satellite navigation, cameras, and Lidar and Radar systems that support naval officers in maneuvering ships. LHP Europe works on future developments to increase the level of autonomous navigations by using synergies of internal research work for the automotive and aeronautical industries.
Container vessel size has increased significantly over the last couple decades with a capacity of 20,000 containers today. In most cases, the powertrain is one single 2-Stroke-Diesel-Engine with cylinder numbers from 11 to 14. The propeller is direct driven so that the engine speed is limited to values below 100 rpm.
Smaller container feeders have two different powertrain concepts. On one side, there are 2-Stroke-Diesel-Engine technology powertrains. On the other side, the use of medium speed 4-Stroke-Diesel-Engines, which offer a far better maneuvering condition with nearly the same efficiency.
The most important target for the shipping lines is to reach a minimum Total Cost of Ownership. The efficiency of the powertrains reaches values of 50% which is the highest value for combustion engines.
Making a Change For The Environment
Today, in most cases, the ship engines burn fossil heavy fuel oil, which is the byproduct of the refinery fuel industries. Therefore, many development activities are ongoing for future alternative renewable fuel and powertrain solutions. Regarding fuel developments, synthetic fuels have the largest impact to reach the targeted GHG emission situation. Most modern Diesel-engines can burn liquid synthetic fuels without major changes of the engine design. There must be only an adjustment of injection components and the software of the combustion parameters to achieve an optimal situation. Gas versions of Diesel engines can burn gaseous synthetic fuels. In conclusion, The Dual fuel system is a suitable solution to have a gaseous fuel combustion process with the highest efficiency and reliability.
Electrical powertrains for container vessels can be developed regarding fuel cell application. A battery energy storage is unsuitable for long distance cruises, due to the size and weight of the components. The fuel cell system could use synthetic liquid fuels like Methanol which could be transformed to Hydrogen with a reformer system. LHP Europe is involved in research and development activities together with a component supplier and a University institute.
- Written by: Ralf Marquard – Managing Director, LHP Europe GmbH