World's most efficient electric propulsion system for marine vessels

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

The latest version of ABB's podded electric propulsion system, Azipod XL, further increases vessel fuel efficiency to a level of up to 20% compared to modern shaft line propulsion systems. The efficiency gain of the new version is achieved by a unique nozzle system that accelerates the water flow into the propeller to increase thrust, and by redesigning the thruster for reduced water resistance.

Since the first installation 25 years ago, Azipod propulsion systems have accumulated more than 12million running hours, saving over 700,000 tons of fuel.

Azipod propulsion is a gearless steerable propulsion system with the electric drive motor located in a submerged pod outside the ship hull. Having 360° manoeuvrability, it is used to steer and drive a broad variety of vessels at the same time.

“Azipod XL represents the biggest jump in the systems’ fuel efficiency in recent years,” said Peter Terwiesch, president of ABB’s Process Automation division. “To put it in perspective, replacing all existing Azipod units with the new model would save the shipping industry an additional 2.2million tons of fuel and 7million tons of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years.”

The Azipod XL concept can be designed to give high bollard pull thrust at lower speed and still have good characteristics at higher speeds. Thus it fits vessels such as tugs and offshore construction vessels, as well as ferries and LNG tankers.

The propulsion’s features include the capability for advanced condition monitoring utilising ABB’s concept of the Internet of Things, Services and People (IoTSP) and its Integrated Operations Centres for Marine, continuously monitoring equipment and performance parameters of more than 600 vessels.


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