The newest energy-efficient hydraulic power unit for hybrid-electric ferries is a first-of-its-kind, and Parker technology played a central role in bringing it to life.
With the growing threat of climate change resulting in stricter near-shore emissions legislation, the need to reduce fossil fuel dependency has reached an all-time high and the marine industry is in the spotlight.
Maritime companies are looking for more sustainable technologies such as hybridization and electrification to drastically reduce climate impact, now and into the future. Norwegian systems integrator Dimo AS was approached by a customer in just such a case:
“One of our key customers, car ferry operator Fjord1, wanted to build new electric ferries and retrofit their existing fleet with hybrid propulsion technology,” explains Stian Garnes, General Manager, Dimo AS. “This resulted in a request to replace existing hydraulic solutions—based on constant pressure technology—with a cleaner, more energy-efficient means of driving the bow ramp, drive ramp and other hydraulic functions.”
Dimo turned to long-time partner Parker to help engineer a more sustainable solution. “Our partner, Dimo, had a challenge. Parker had the application and technology expertise to design the new hydraulic power unit and bring it to market,” says Jari Rantanen, Parker Application Development Manager. “We went from sketch to prototype in one year.”
The new Eco Power Unit (EPU) combines existing components as well as a new, custom hydraulic manifold system to help minimize flow losses between the power unit and actuators. “We moved from a valve-controlled system where the valve regulates the speed of the actuator to a pump system,” adds Rantanen. “Now the oil transfers the power. The more oil you pump, the faster the actuator goes.”
Using a combination of smart, variable speed drives and a user-friendly control system, the EPU consumes up to 90% less power than a conventional hydraulic power unit and offers a number of end-user benefits. Parker’s vane pump technology enables the EPU to perform in a wide speed and pressure range. The system also achieves lower noise emission than a conventional hydraulic power unit by removing the high frequency noise of normal piston pumps. This results in a safer, better work environment as well as a more pleasant experience for passengers.
“The customer said that it was the best technical solution for this type of application that they had ever seen,” says Garnes. “Once installed, we could see that real-world performance was even better than our simulations and that energy-efficiency savings of 92% were being achieved. That is a huge savings and a major step towards delivering greener hydraulic systems.”
Today, Dimo is recognized as the leading hydraulic provider for small and medium-sized vessels and workboats. The Eco Power Unit has been installed on nearly 30 ferries as well as a variety of other watercraft across Nordic, Scandinavian and Canadian waters. But Parker and Dimo are just getting started.
“It has been an incredible learning experience with the Parker team behind us,” summarizes Rantanen. “We plan to further develop our drive-controlled pump technology and will be coming out with a new inverter to enhance the condition monitoring side. Dimo is also interested in considering servo drives for low power locations, which could lead to a hydraulic-free solution in the future.”
The maritime industry is on course to becoming greener. The journey to a carbon-free future is all about taking incremental steps, leading with purpose and knowing your actions have impact in creating a better tomorrow.