Common European inland vessel concept
Inland shipping plays an important role in European transport by providing low cost and environmental friendly links for about 50% of all transport volume between sea ports and hinterland. Modernisation and improving of the economic efficiency of the inland fleet is however necessary to meet new needs from the intensifying West-East trade and to replace obsolete ships over the next 15 years. Recognising these needs a consortium of shipbuilders, suppliers, shipping companies, classification societies and research institutes set out to develop a new, innovative inland ship concept. Diesel-electric power generation and electric propulsion concepts were used to develop a new approach to inland ship design. This enabled to renew existing ship general arrangements and benefit fully from the flexibility provided by diesel-electric power generation, power management and pod-type rudder propellers. Results are a new, more flexible general arrangement, new power plant and propulsion train concepts, enhanced cargo volume, better fuel economy, enhanced safety and better working conditions for the crew. Economy is a decisive factor when evaluating new technical concepts. An exploitation model was developed to simulate inland shipping operations and evaluate the merits of new technical concepts. Results are a computer-aided simulation tool for economic evaluations of such operations that includes in its database the entire waterways infrastructure in Western Europe. Ecology is a core factor in European policies aiming to bring about a shift from road to waterborne transport. Inland ships generate less environment damaging emissions per Ton/Km than trucks. Using the latest Eco-technology in diesel engine design and a sophisticated power management system adapted for inland shipping operations a concept for matching power consumption needs with the power plant generation capacity was developed. Results are reduced fuel consumption and emissions with respect to existing inland ship solutions. Research methods used in the project included a combination of computer simulations and model testing to develop and optimise the underwater hull shape in terms of cargo volume and hydrodynamic characteristics. Computer simulations and full-scale bench tests were used to establish the characteristics of the diesel-electric power plant in terms of fuel consumption, emissions and noise levels. Results are a new hull shape with better hydrodynamic performance and enhanced cargo volume, and full-scale data on power management, fuel consumption, emissions and noise over a wide power range. European co-operation and synergy is a most relevant keyword for this project. Co-operation within the industrial column from research institute to end user guarantees technical consistency and commitment. Co-operation between large industrial groups and SME's provides opportunities for technology transfer for the latter while the CRAFT programme makes the access to research institutes possible for SME's. Results are enhanced capability for SME shipyards to offer to the market ship concepts with demonstrable and provable better earning capability.