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Seanergy Meets High Power Needs of Sir David Attenborough
While today’s day and age is driven by instant gratification and continually enhanced digitalization—and the marine industry is no stranger to adapting to Industry 4.0 and addressing the needs of connectivity driven by the Internet of Things (IoT)—environmental friendliness, cost efficiency and safety are timeless requirements for marine battery manufacturers.
With Saft’s proven track record and commitment to these industry requirements, Rolls-Royce selected Saft to provide the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology to integrate into its environmentally friendly hybrid propulsion system for the RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research vessel.
In order to meet the demands of its exploration expeditions and transit through some of the world’s most frigid waters, the new polar research vessel requires precise battery system specifications to ensure reliability. Saft created a customized battery solution developed distinctly to meet the high power needs of the polar research vessel. The battery system is based on Saft’s proven Seanergy 48P high-power module, with higher voltage, power capability and cooling efficiency to accommodate the unique needs of the vessel.
Two of Saft’s specialized Seanergy marine Li-ion battery systems, within 21 cabinets, will help power Rolls-Royce’s diesel electric propulsion system, coupled with the new Bergen B33:45 engines. Together, the battery systems will provide 1,450 kWh of capacity with a maximum voltage of 1,011 V and will be assembled into the vessel’s control and automation system. The power provided by the cutting-edge technology will assist the vessel with peak power, especially within dynamic positioning mode. For this vessel, superior dynamic positioning will help with successful scientific instrument deployment.
With Saft’s customization capabilities, these battery systems are sized so the vessel can run on voyages up to 19,000 nautical miles while maintaining self-sufficiency in fuel. Moreover, the Li-ion battery systems will empower the vessel to push through ice up to 1-m thick. Also, the Li-ion technologies will help the vessel tow equipment over the side with minimal underwater radiated noise to minimize disruption to marine life and obstruction of survey equipment.
Saft’s Li-ion Super-Iron Phosphate (SLFP) technology, which has certifications from Bureau Veritas, Lloyd’s Register and DNV GL, will be embedded in Rolls-Royce’s overall system. With its modular design, this technology allows for custom-builds to accommodate myriad applications’ power and voltage requirements. It is adaptable to various types of usages and operations, and provides high power in a compact size. Saft’s technology makes it possible to avoid oversizing a battery system, resulting in weight savings that translate into environmental and cost efficiencies.
With SLFP’s high efficiency and power output, fast-charge capability and long calendar and cycling life, it is an ideal battery solution for civil marine purposes. Crews can rest easy with the knowledge that the batteries on board provide reliability, even across wide temperature ranges, as well as paramount safety and security. Furthermore, the architecture of SLFP has extreme resilience to electrical and mechanical abuse.
The RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research vessel will be one of the most advanced of its kind when it sets sail in 2019 to carry out oceanographic and various scientific work in the Antarctic and Arctic regions. It will also haul supplies to Antarctic research stations. With its technologically innovative design, the ship will be able to travel for 60 days unsupported. This equates to 35,000 km, or the ability to completely circle Antarctica twice. Sailing throughout the entire year, the vessel will assist with Arctic research cruises during the northern summer, then support research programs and complete transportation tasks amid Antarctica’s austral summer. Equipped with a helideck and hangar, the vessel will accommodate up to two helicopters, allowing for tasks with airborne scientific instruments and supporting teamwork with other polar research initiatives.
Currently the biggest commercial shipbuilding contract in Britain, the vessel will be operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
The 128-m-long ship is under construction at Cammell Laird’s site in Birkenhead on Merseyside in England. The construction of the vessel has created hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships in the region. The contemporary design will boast one of the world’s most advanced seaborne laboratory facilities, accommodating various sectors including, but not limited to, geophysics, oceanography and marine ecology. The vessel will house up to 90 people, including research teams and crew members, with ample space for cargo.
Earlier in 2017, the vessel gained world recognition with its naming contest, which resulted in “Boaty McBoatface” as the winner, later over-ruled in favor of “Sir David Attenborough,” a tribute to Sir David, a well-known British broadcaster, and his dedication to nature and science. He hosted several wildlife documentaries on the BBC. At the time of the naming announcement, it was revealed the U.K. government will supply £1 million for a Polar Explorer program, encouraging future generations to be involved with environmental science.
With the inevitable adaptations required in the civil marine industry as a result of stringent environmental regulations, the RRS Sir David Attenborough vessel requires leading-edge design and concepts in its architecture, including innovative battery technologies to assist with reduced emissions, while enhancing efficiencies and profitability. Between the vessel’s outstanding fuel efficiency, as well as use of robotic technologies managed from afar, it is anticipated the ship will curtail the overall environmental impact of vessels used for scientific research. Further, over its 25-year working life, it is predicted the new polar research vessel will generate a savings of more than £100 million in operating costs.
Due to its hostile environment, isolated location and vast inaccessibility, the Southern Ocean has the least amount of available data reports compared to other primary oceans. With the RRS Sir David Attenborough’s intended voyages there, it will be able to fill in some data gaps—but there can be no compromise on the reliability and safety of the ship.
Saft’s high-power batteries are specially designed for applications in which it is not easy to escape your transportation vehicle. Thus, Rolls-Royce entrusted Saft to design and manufacture the battery systems to accompany its hybrid propulsion systems.
Saft prides itself on end-to-end collaboration and works extensively with all its customers to provide precise support before and after the manufacturing of the battery system. Saft delivers made-to-measure battery designs, lifetime modeling and customized testing, installation, after-sales support for maintenance, software interfacing and monitoring, and ongoing staff training, even in the most remote waters.
With instant gratification and the continually evolving digitalization of today’s world comes the urgency for means to communicate over long distances and with immense amounts of data. The expansion of the IoT and interconnectivity enables more complex, data-heavy applications, including intricate battery systems. Saft’s e-Supervision tool is the answer to delivering data-heavy remote battery diagnostics. It provides customers with crucial data in real time from a remote location. The tool enables the battery system owners to secure alerts and investigate happenings without having to be in the presence of the system.
Accommodating digitalization, the new polar research vessel will serve as a platform for numerous intelligent scientific instruments. The RRS Sir David Attenborough will be Britain’s first polar research vessel hosting a moon pool. Extending through the vessel, and opening at both deck and sea level, the vertical trough supports the maneuvering of scientific equipment in the middle, and most steady, section of the ship. Compared to the sides or stern with uneasy waters, the center of the ship provides safety and stability. Deploying these technologies, operated remotely from the vessel, will provide scientists with data otherwise unattainable. These devices will collect information from places under the ice and into the far depths of the ocean. Beyond championing the latest editions of ROVs for the polar regions, the ship also will boast the communication and data oversight technology required to deliver real-time data, thus improving efficiency to maximize the researchers’ time and resources.
It is well-known our sea levels are continually rising, causing numerous concerns and requiring immediate action to comprehend the polar ice melt and discern its impacts on our climate, global ocean circulation and ecosystems. It is estimated that by 2100 the oceans could rise as much as 6 ft., resulting in more than 13.1 million people in the United States—and nearly 180 million people worldwide—being uprooted from their homes. While the immediate impact of rising sea levels on the coastal regions is clear, it greatly affects those who live inland as well, as people living on the coast will be relocating. This will require inland areas to update various infrastructure, housing and transportation systems to accommodate the influx of residents.
The RRS Sir David Attenborough’s expeditions will contribute immensely to research efforts to better understand polar and ice sheet melting. The vessel’s explorations in the polar regions are essential for us to have perspective on all the major changes occurring for marine life, the Earth’s oceans and our climate system. The world-class laboratories on board will enable scientists to study data on marine biology and ocean surroundings delivered from robotic submarines and marine gliders. Precise statistics about the polar environment will also be delivered from airborne robots and onboard environmental monitoring systems.