Volvo Penta announces hybrid marine propulsion concept

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Volvo Penta’s new hybrid package on its IPS system

Volvo Penta’s new hybrid package on its IPS system

Volvo Penta has announced a hybrid concept for its IPS propulsion. The engine manufacturer revealed the new system during a media event attended by Trade Only Today in Gothenburg, Sweden, several weeks ago. The company recently announced it planned to provide electrified power solutions for marine- and land-based applications by 2021.

The hybrid system includes Volvo diesels, electric motor drive and an energy storage system (lithium batteries) that is designed to produce zero-emission propulsion. Integrated into its IPS system, the hybrid will allow boats to operate in low- and zero-emissions marine sanctuaries that are expected to be introduced around the world in coming years. The system, according to Volvo, has lower noise, vibration and running costs than traditional diesel propulsion.

“A hybrid provides a flexible solution, one that maintains the high efficiency offered by the IPS system and adds the ability to run in zero emission environments,” says Niklas Thulin, Volvo Penta’s Director of Electromobility. “With full torque from the electric motor available instantly, the boat will maintain the responsiveness and controllability that IPS is famous for in electric-only mode, as well as offering the ability to run at 10 to 12 knots.”

Volvo’s Electromobility Lab

Volvo’s Electromobility Lab

The hybrid system is planned initially for the 8- to 13-liter Volvo engine range for yachts, ferries, pilot and supply boats. Thulin told Trade Only Today at the event that a commercial version would be released in 2021, with a hybrid for recreational vessels on the market in 2022. “One of the benefits we can offer is having a system that is fully integrated and tested,” Thulin said. “We can offer a complete system, which distinguishes us from the competition. They have to create a piecemeal system of different components.”

Volvo Penta has already moved into hybrid and electric power technology. It currently has more than 4,000 electric buses on the road, with a second generation coming online shortly.

Nikla Thulin, Volvo Penta’s director of Electromobility

Nikla Thulin, Volvo Penta’s director of Electromobility

Thulin said that the system will work with a new clutch and electric motor added between the engine and IPS pod. The electric motor is supported by scalable (depending on application needs) Li-ion battery packs that can be charged externally using AC or DC chargers; or recharged using the primary diesel engine. The clutch allows the boat to run in electric-only mode, and with the clutch closed, both diesel and electric power can be used in parallel.

“The modular nature of the battery packs allows customers to tailor the design and performance of both commercial and leisure boats,” said Thulin. “More battery capacity offers extended electric-only cruising, and – with frequent external charging – the use of smaller diesel engines and lower fuel costs.” Volvo said servicing costs should also be “noticeably lower.”

The system is expected to start sea-trialing by early 2020. 

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