Debut for MTU Series 4000 pure gas engines in new Doeksen ferry

Netherlands-based ship operator Doeksen officially commissioning the first of two new ferries, MS Willem Barentz, in a ceremony in Harlingen, the Netherlands, on 1 July. The ferry is powered by two 1,492kW 16-cylinder MTU Series 4000 pure gas engines, in what is the first reference for the engines from Rolls-Royce.

“I’m really impressed with the MTU gas engines. So far, they’ve met all our expectations in terms of performance, transient response behaviour, smooth travel and low noise,” said Paul Melles, Managing Director of the Doeksen shipping company.

“We’re very proud that the Doeksen shipping company has chosen our new gas engines for eco-friendly operation of their ferries on the Wadden Sea, which is recognized as worthy of special environmental protection,” said Knut Müller, head of marine and governmental business at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “Joining forces with them as our partner, we will be focusing our efforts on driving the energy turnaround.”

The entry into service of the first Series 4000 8-cylinder gas engines is expected to take place this winter. A pair of 746-kW, 8-cylinder gas engine were supplied to the City of Constance public utility in Germany at the end of 2019 for the new Lake Constance ferry, which is planned to be commissioned during the upcoming winter.

Dynamics of gas-only engine

The main propulsion systems of the two new catamarans comprise twin MTU high-speed 16-cylinder Series 4000 gas units delivering 1,492kW. Directly driving the Azimuth fixed propellers, the engines enable the vessels to reach cruising speeds of 14 knots.

“Rolls-Royce has developed the very first single-fuel gas engine that can drive a fixed propeller directly and is therefore capable of dynamic acceleration. That was the advantage that really made the difference for us,” explained Paul Melles.

The gas engines are furthermore equipped with multipoint fuel injection, dynamic engine control and enhanced turbo-charging. Multipoint fuel injection caters for dynamic acceleration capabilities, high power output and reduced emissions. By controlling the combustion process, it also offers the advantage of higher fuel efficiency. Since the gas system has double walls, the engine room can still be laid out more or less as for diesel-based propulsion.

Green marine propulsion for specially protected Wadden Sea

Emissions from the MTU gas engines fall considerably below the current IMO III limits without the need for exhaust aftertreatment – with particle mass, for example, lying under the detection threshold. Furthermore, the engine emits no sulphur oxides and only very small quantities of nitrogen oxide.

From its headquarters in the city of Harlingen, the Doeksen shipping company operates ferry services to the West Frisian islands of Terschelling and Vlieland. Following Willem Barentsz, its sister ship, Willem de Vlamingh, will be added in September to the fleet, which will then count 8 vessels in total. The two new arrivals will each have the capacity to transport up to 600 passengers and 64 cars across the Wadden Sea.

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