Volvo Penta unveils hybrid marine propulsion concept

Just a few weeks after setting the deadline to 2021 for electric mobility, Volvo Penta has unveiled a hybrid concept for its IPS propulsion system designed to enable zero emission running for marine vessels.

We wrote about it on these pages: it was some days ago when we told you about the announcement by Volvo Penta that they will provide electrified power solutions for both land and sea by 2021. Now the company has revealed details of a hybrid-powered Inboard Performance System (IPS) concept.

It seems to be really worth it

Designed to further extend IPS’ advantage, the hybrid variant will allow boats to operate in the environmentally sensitive low-and-zero emission zones that are expected to be more and more in the coming years. The hybrid configuration will also bring additional benefits, including lower noise and vibrations, reduced running costs, better onboard comfort and enhanced handling characteristics.

The IPS hybrid system is planned initially for the 8-13 liter engine range – suitable for powering vessels such as ferries, pilot and supply boats, as well as yachts. It uses hybrid technology first developed within the Volvo Group, which Volvo Penta is now adapting and certifying for marine applications. Let’s see how it works.

A clutch and electric motor are added between the engine and the IPS pod. The electric motor is supported by Li-ion battery packs that can be charged externally using AC or DC chargers; or recharged using the primary diesel engine. Opening of 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. In terms of operation, the captain will use the familiar control interfaces of the IPS system, with the addition of new drive modes to choose from. Think of cars, and think in particular of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The parallel hybrid IPS is currently
in early stage development, with the
system being validated at the company’s
test center in Gothenburg, and a test boat
planned to enter sea trials in early 2020

The modular nature of the battery packs allows customers (i.e. boatyards) to tailor the design and performance of both commercial and leisure boats. More battery capacity offers extended electric-only cruising, and allows – with frequent external charging – the use of smaller diesel engines and lower fuel costs. With the electric motor and batteries maintenance-free – and the diesel engine operating for fewer hours – the cost of servicing should also decrease. More, Volvo Penta will support customers in tailoring a prop-to-helm configuration based on the specific application needs.

The parallel hybrid IPS is currently in early development stage, with the system being validated at the company’s test center in Gothenburg, and a test boat planned to enter sea trials in early 2020. During this process, customer input will play an important element in developing the system for use in a range of marine applications. The hybrid IPS will be available to commercial customers in 2021, followed by a leisure boat option soon after. We can’t wait.


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