Green & High-Tech programme on course for a clean-energy future

4/4/2017 | Words: Interview in Magazine Schiff & Hafen | Pictures: Robert Hack

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Mr Schell, you've been CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems since 1 January 2017. What were your initial impressions and have you nailed your colours to the mast?
Andreas Schell: Rolls-Royce Power Systems is a well-appointed organization with a healthy DNA, solid foundations and a clear strategic course for the future. Our MTU, MTU Onsite Energy and L’Orange brands present premium products which have a very strong foothold on global markets. What inspires me about this company is its long-standing reputation for engineering prowess, its innovativeness in a wide variety of fields and of course the ingenuity of its engineers. 
My fellow board member Marcus Wassenberg and myself have come on board to keep Rolls-Royce Power Systems on an upward curve. We're doing this by using a clear agenda that centres on the customer and secures the company's future while keeping a close eye on the markets and our product and service portfolio. Our job is to plot the course – key points along the way being the development of eco-friendly, sustainable drive and power generation solutions, and ongoing digitization, particularly of our sales and service offerings to customers. Through the re-structuring of our Sales and Service divisions, we will gain much greater proximity to the customer and be able to serve his needs more pro-actively. We stand for quality, reliability and innovation and our agenda for the future is actually quite easy to sum up: We want to become more agile, more digitized, more global.


Marine propulsion systems carrying the MTU brand are in service all over the world and are one of your main sales pillars. When it comes to sustainable development of the maritime economy, where do you feel the challenges lie and what contribution will your company be making?
Andreas Schell: The world's population is growing, along with its demand for mobility and energy, and it is those demands that we have to meet – taking into account ever scarcer resources and the need to significantly reduce the impact on our environment. That is the challenge that we as a business are facing - along with our policymakers, industry and society at large. That means exploring and implementing brand new approaches to finding solutions. And we are already busy doing just that.
We are in the process of developing new technologies and services that will support shipyards and ship operators in successfully meeting the challenges that the future will bring. To cover their needs, we are developing powerful marine propulsion systems that offer greater efficiency and lower life-cycle costs while being kinder on the environment.

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We launched our Green & High-Tech programme in 2016. Within the framework of this programme, our investments are targeted at finding ecologically sound solutions for the future that are less polluting, consume less energy, and exploit fewer resources. It’s clear that as far as the maritime sector is concerned, a reduction of carbon emissions can only be achieved in stages. Internal combustion engines will be part of the solution for a long time to come, but perhaps not in the same form as today. They will need enhancing with modern exhaust gas aftertreatment, the use of alternative fuels and hybrid concepts, and of course digitization. Our target is a carbon emissions reduction of up to 30% by 2030.
However, a successful energy turnaround in the maritime sector will depend on having uniform and stable framework conditions in place and a strong partnership between industry and policymakers. With appropriate subsidy measures, development programmes for building cleaner and more efficient engines can be implemented more swiftly. We are currently working for example on 4 projects in these fields that are being financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. And with proper underpinning by the public sector, customers will be able to install new, low-emission propulsion systems in their vessels at shorter notice because they will have reliable infrastructures at their disposal such as – to name an example – adequate tank facilities for LNG (Liquid Natural Gas). 

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Dr Chatterjee, you are leading the Green & High-Tech programme at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. What is your chief focus?
Dr Daniel Chatterjee: In our Green & High-Tech programme, we're concentrating on electrification, alternative fuels, exhaust gas aftertreatment, digitization, and overall system capability – in other words, offering complete drive and propulsion and power generation systems. Technologically, the diesel engine drives which we offer today are already highly evolved and boast excellent efficiency, but cutting-edge exhaust gas aftertreatment systems will enable us to lower pollutant emissions even further. By integrating the engine and exhaust gas aftertreatment system smartly, you can assure high overall efficiency and perfect interaction of both components. And this will be enhanced by the other technologies we are working on – both to keep the life-cycle costs of our marine propulsion systems down and to improve their ecological footprint.
Both for marine propulsion and rail traction, hybrid drive solutions using electric motors will be one of the pillars of green mobility in the future. Recently, the world's largest sailing yacht, called 'Sailing Yacht A', was recently commissioned, and is powered by an innovative hybrid propulsion system from MTU that is specially tailored to the needs of the customer. This is a combined diesel-electric propulsion system offering seven different drive modes. Diesel engines and electric motors are configured together to achieve high speeds. At the other end of the scale, low-vibration cruising with reduced fuel consumption is also possible.
And our subsidiary Bergen Engines recently embarked on a project for powering the new expedition vessels being launched by Hurtigruten, the renowned Norwegian cruise operator.  These hybrid propulsion systems stand to make a dream become reality for Hurtigruten as early as 2019 – the dream of emission-free maritime traffic in highly sensitive natural environments such as the Arctic waters.
Our Green & High-Tech programme also involves work on mobile gas engines which means gas engines powered by conventional natural gas or by regeneratively produced green natural gas. This natural gas can be stored on vessels in the form of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). These engines boast excellent environmental credentials and will be instrumental in reducing the impact of maritime traffic on the environment and permanently lowering emissions. Compared to a diesel engine, a straightforward gas engine generates up to 11% less greenhouse gas, 90% fewer nitrogen oxides, virtually no particulates, and no sulphur dioxides.
And if we deploy wind and solar for producing synthetic natural gases, we will have reached an important milestone in the maritime industry energy turnaround. Power-to-Gas technology enables ocean-going vessels to be powered by regeneratively produced fuels.

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The new MTU 16V 4000 gas engine for commercial marine applications

Our gas engines are already a concrete option. At the end of the year, as part of the EU LeanShips project, the first test engines are to be installed in a tug being built for Svitzer towage and salvage company at Damen Shipyards. From 2018 we will be delivering our first series-production gas engines, certified for use in commercial shipping. In the North Sea, Dutch shipping company Doeksen will be deploying our gas engines to power its ferries circulating in the Wadden Sea offshore nature reserve. And this is not to mention Lake Constance, Europe's biggest drinking water reservoir, on which a new ferry running solely on LNG is scheduled to go into service from 2019. We are delighted to see our propulsion systems being selected for service in sensitive eco-systems like these. Which is also irrefutable proof that we have put our business on exactly the right course. Another key element of our Green & High-Tech programme is digitization.


Of course, one of the key themes of this year's National Maritime Conference is digitization and the challenges and opportunities it presents to the maritime industry. Mr Schell, where do you see the challenges and opportunities for your business and what are you specifically planning in this direction?
Andreas Schell: We are making targeted investment in the development of digital technologies such as Cloud solutions and customer-oriented Apps for use in the Service sector. We want to digitize our drive and propulsion systems in such a way that engine fuel consumption and maintenance costs are kept to a minimum while we continue to offer the same reliability and quality to our customers. To do this, we need smart, intelligent engines that can detect independently when a spare part will need to be replaced or if servicing is required. Other capabilities will be automatic optimization of fuel consumption, which will also help to substantially reduce operating costs.
For me, the challenges of digitization lie in issues such as data protection and security, data networking, norms and standards, the legal framework and clarification of data ownership rights.

What will be your next moves in Green & High-Tech – do you have a road map?
Dr Daniel Chatterjee:
We are amalgamating different technologies to produce an optimum system with significantly lower pollutant emissions and a better carbon footprint than conventional drives based on internal combustion engines.
In the first phase, the internal combustion engine is combined with an exhaust gas aftertreatment system. Gas then comes into play as an alternative fuel. In the second phase, we add other components such as the electric motors we deploy in our E-drive solutions. We then use intelligent, networked products to optimize maintenance processes and enhance material efficiency. In the third phase, we use sustainably produced fuels to significantly lower emissions and fuel consumption.

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This is illustrated in the chart which shows a propulsion system that combines an internal combustion engine with technologies from our Green & High-Tech Programme. The outcome is a fully integrated and highly evolved overall system that incorporates efficient technologies to protect our environment.

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