Building the Engine Room of the Future
Bachmann’s involvement in MARIN’s Zero Emissions Lab
When the subject of MARIN (Maritime Research Institute Netherlands) comes up in conversation, it is not surprising that one of the first images that comes to mind is the hydrodynamic modelling of ships. After all, this independent research institute is renowned for its multiple testing basins, four of which exceed the 220 metre mark. This work, taking the external characteristics of the vessel into consideration, has been the backbone of MARIN’s activities since it was established.
One of the most recent developments at MARIN reflects the continual broadening of its operations. This is the Zero Emissions Lab, which as the name suggests, takes the institute a step further into what is perhaps the most pressing issue of future-proof and sustainable maritime operations.
“In accordance with rules and regulations for environmentally-friendly shipping, we are building a zero emission laboratory where we can configure and test the performance of zero emission and climate neutral ships’ propulsion and power plants,” explains Moritz Krijgsman, senior project manager at MARIN. “With the Zero Emissions Lab we are responding to requests from the market about zero emissions – focusing on the inside of the ship as well as the outside. This will create a smart link between hydrodynamics and innovative future-proof ship systems.”
Three future fuels
Initiated in 2017, the Zero Emissions Lab consists of three elements. “The first is the Hydro-systems group, with which we work with customers, mainly ship-owners, advising them with their questions about propulsion and power supply to comply with future emissions requirements.”
While it is fair to say that the Hydro-systems group is the consultancy side of the Zero Emissions Lab, the second element can only be described as 100 per cent R&D. “This is the actual laboratory,” Krijgsman goes on to say. “This is where we are using the information shared by customers – their requirements about performance, safety, reliability, redundancy and operational profiles – to specify our laboratory.”
MARIN’s Zero Emissions Lab supports configurations for three different ‘future fuels’ of which two have already been selected: compressed hydrogen and methanol converted in a scaled-down 100kW model of a ship’s propulsion system and power plant. “Our work also includes the influence of these fuels on the design of a ship. From an engineering point of view, all these fuels are less energy dense than diesel, so the design consequences are quite severe.”
Running side-by-side the actual Zero Emissions Lab is the third element: the virtual Zero Emissions Lab. “What we are doing at the moment is collecting data from the stationary and dynamic modelling of the connected equipment, and creating a numerical model in Simulink, sometimes referred to as the digital twin. Here we can model all sorts of mechanical, electrical, control and hydrodynamic processes,” Krijgsman notes. As this digital twin is an exact copy of the real system, it is imperative that it mirrors its 100kW capacity.
“This digital version of the Zero Emissions Lab is created using the data gathered by the Bachmann controllers it contains. These enable the precise creation of the digital twin,” says Joeri ten Napel, key account manager marine for Bachmann Electronic.
“Speed of processing performance is one reason that we turned to Bachmann,” adds Krijgsman. “This is in addition to the Hardware-in-the-Loop capacity and compliancy with the Simulink environment. But I must add that people are also important. We like to deal with people who are focused with service and can help us. If we have a complicated situation, then we get support from Bachmann. This has been the case ever since we first worked together in 2009 on the Amsterdam fuel cell boat.”
It is on the subject of scaling up model testing to real world situations that the links between MARIN and Bachmann can be further seen. Ten Napel: “MARIN is building an accurate virtual environment, implementing modules as the industry requires, and then scaling up with the decades of knowledge that they have of the challenges and the processes of nautical research. However, it is still a challenge to connect virtual and real world. Throughout the stages of modelling, code generation, HIL testing, operations and monitoring, Bachmann connects the two.”
No matter how accurate the virtual lab is, there will always be a need to perform live measurements on real ships. “Certain things can only be evaluated in practice,” notes Krijgsman. “We predict that, although the results from the Zero Emissions Lab – both the real and virtual – will provide a lot of information to improve design and design rules, we will still need physical validations in the real world environment. To this end, electronics control and automation are very important parts of future energy systems. We cannot achieve the maritime energy transition without them.”
Note: The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of World Maritime News.