ABB Azipod Electric Propulsion Marks 30 Years of Excellence at Sea
From its creation three decades ago to its market leading position in global shipping today, ABB’s Azipod propulsion has revolutionized marine transport with its unparalleled performance, efficiency, sustainability and reliability. First seen on the Finnish icegoing vessel Seili in 1991, Azipod electric propulsion has clocked over 20 million running hours at an impressive availability rate of 99.9 percent, while saving about 1,000,000 tons of fuel in the cruise segment alone. Over three decades, ABB has developed Azipod propulsion to meet varied and ever-changing needs of shipping companies, bringing higher performance for all kinds of vessels. Today, over 25 different vessel types rely on Azipod® technology – from cruise ships to cargo carriers, icebreakers, ferries and superyachts. In total, ABB has sold over 700 Azipod units over the course of 30 years.
With the electric drive motor housed within a pod outside the ship hull, the Azipod system can rotate 360 degrees, increasing maneuverability and allowing even the largest vessels to dock in harbors where turning circles are restricted. Crucially, Azipod propulsion also improves operating efficiency, boosting a ship’s hydrodynamic performance and cutting fuel consumption by up to 20 percent when compared with a traditional shaftline setup. Space saved by locating the motor outside the ship allows for more flexible design and frees up space for cabins, cargo or other features.
Azipod propulsion was initially designed as a future-proof system able to adapt to virtually any energy source. With the electric drive motor at its core, the Azipod system can be powered by electricity drawn from different energy sources including batteries and fuel cells, and shipowners can add or exchange power sources as they evolve. Electrical power minimizes engine noise and vibration as well, ensuring a smoother, quieter ride.
Azipod unit power ranges from 1MW to 22MW, with different models delivered from two Finnish plants and one in Shanghai. Successive generations have been refined for enhanced hydrodynamics, space efficiency and structural strength, and for easier installation and maintenance. Up to 95 percent of the material used in the production of Azipod® units is recyclable, testimony to the sustainable lifecycle perspective that guides the development and application of this remarkable technology.