Integrated electric propulsion
Integrated electric propulsion (IEP) or full electric propulsion (FEP) or integrated full electric propulsion (IFEP) is an arrangement of marine propulsion systems such that gas turbines or diesel generators or both generate three phase electricity which is then used to power electric motors turning either propellers or waterjet impellors. It is a modification of the combined diesel-electric and gas propulsion system for ships which eliminates the need for clutches and reduces or eliminates the need for gearboxes by using electrical transmission rather than mechanical transmission of energy.
Eliminating the mechanical connection between the engines and the propulsion has several advantages including increased freedom of placement of the engines, acoustical decoupling of the engines from the hull which makes the ship less noisy, and a reduction of weight and volume. Reducing acoustic signature is particularly important to naval vessels seeking to avoid detection and to cruise ships seeking to provide passengers with a pleasant voyage, but is of less benefit to cargo ships. Because ships anyway require electricity even when not underway, having all of the engines produce electricity reduces the number of engines needed compared to more traditional arrangements in which one pool of engines provides electricity and another pool of engines provides propulsion, reducing capital costs and maintenance costs.
A typical integrated electric propulsion arrangement includes both diesel generators and gas turbines. The advantages of gas turbines include much lower weight and smaller size than diesels of similar power, and much less noise and vibration, but they are efficient only at or near maximum power. Diesel generators have the advantage of high efficiency over a wide range of power levels. Using them in combination allows for the benefits of a full range of operational efficiency, a low-vibration quiet mode of operation, and some reduction in weight and volume relative to a diesel-only arrangement. In naval vessels, a pool of diesel generators are typically used to provide a base load and enough power to achieve cruise speed. The gas turbines are used to provide peak power for higher speeds and may be required to operate weapon systems with high power demands. In passenger ships, one or more gas turbines are used for fast cruising. The diesels provide reliable redundancy and an efficient source of electricity when in port, at anchor, or drifting. A diesel-electric system is an integrated electric propulsion system in which no gas turbines are used and all of the engines are diesel. Some yachts use only gas turbines for integrated electric propulsion without any diesel engines.
List of IEP ships
- Type 45 destroyer (Royal Navy)
- Zumwalt-class destroyer (US Navy)
- RMS Queen Mary 2 (Cunard Line)
- Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship (US Navy)
- Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier (Royal Navy)
- Shirase (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)
- Dr. Timothy J. McCoy and Dr. John V. Amy Jr. "The State-of-the-Art of Integrated Electric Power and Propulsion Systems and Technologies on Ships" (PDF). American Society of Naval Engineers. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
- "The Benefits of Gas-Turbine Engines". Yachting Magazine. 2011-01-25. Retrieved 2012-09-10.