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Significant fuel savings on ferries

5 August 2016

A new engine module using “stop-start” technology developed by Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) employees and other collaborators has resulted in a 40% reduction in fuel consumption for the department’s ferries.

The module, developed by DPTI’s Matt Ridley of the Morgan Dockyard in collaboration with the Ferry Services Unit and various specialist businesses operating in South Australia, has been trialled since April 2014.

Five ferries currently have the module on two sides, including a new steel-hull ferry at Narrung that entered service on 20 July 2016, and three have the module on one side only.

A ferry engine module is typically powered by a diesel engine coupled to a hydraulic pump circuit, which is fed into hydraulic motors that power the main cable drive wheels on board the ferry. The drive wheels engage steel cables that are fixed at each side of the riverbank, enabling the ferry to cross from one side to the other.

The new stop-start mechanism in the engine module works by storing hydraulic energy in an accumulator, which is released back through the hydraulic pump to turn over the engine until it has ignited. This mechanism enables the engine to be stopped and started more frequently without incurring wear on the electrical starter motor and the engine ring gear.

A primary benefit of the module is a reduction in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission, with an approximate saving of 190 tonnes/year to date. There is a projected reduction of approximately 435 tonnes/year by converting every module in the fleet to the new technology.

Other benefits include a significant reduction in noise and reduced maintenance requirements, achieved by reducing engine running hours and extending service interval times.

“The new ferry modules have achieved significant fuel savings from the use of an innovative stop-start mechanism incorporated into their design,” DPTI Project Manager, Ferry Replacement Program, Carmelo Rositano said.

“By stopping the engine more frequently, significant fuel savings are achieved by eliminating long engine idle periods while waiting for traffic to board the ferry.

“A trial of the new module on board the Morgan ferry has proven a fuel saving of approximately 40%, compared to an older style module that does not feature the stop-start technology, and similar fuel savings have been achieved for other ferries in the fleet.

“The cost of this initiative would be offset by the fuel savings alone within two years.

“The new engine module design has set the standard for fuel economy, environmental protection and cost reduction.

“By achieving a high standard of excellence, it has shown the benefit of a collaborative approach between the State Government and specialists in private industry.”

The parts and labour to install the hydraulic start on each module is approximately $11,700, with the funding to date coming from DPTI’s Environmental Program.

Stop-start technology is used in other applications such as automotive. However, the proof of concept has been developed specifically to DPTI’s cable ferries and the department owns the intellectual property.