A collaboration of European marine research institutes and companies has developed new thruster technologies for ships operating in Arctic conditions, as part of the Arctic Thruster Ecosystem (ArTEco) project.

ArTEco, a three-year-long project led by VTT and Wärtsilä, aims to develop new solutions for mechanical and rotating propulsion technology in extreme conditions.

The newly developed technologies are designed to support better use of ships and enable the predictability of loading and failure of ships when they operate in difficult ice conditions.

They are also capable of reducing environmental footprints by reducing the visits of maintenance vessels into the sensitive Arctic sea areas.

When sailing in Arctic regions, ships have to endure extreme loads created by ice, especially when the power of the ship’s engine is directed through the ice by the propeller.

Extreme loads lead to wearing of the propulsion equipment, or thruster, reducing the life cycle and technical reliability.

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As part of its involvement in ArTEco, VTT has developed and measured damping solutions for torsional vibrations, which is caused by issues such as the impact of propeller blades on ice.

“The smart products and services of the future and new, competitiveness-boosting business opportunities will be created via the ecosystem projects.”

VTT project coordinator Jari Halme said: “The results of the project can be applied on various vessels, icebreakers and the autonomous ships of the future, which will be able to operate in both non-Arctic and Arctic sea areas.

“The smart products and services of the future and new, competitiveness-boosting business opportunities will be created via the ecosystem projects.”

Innovative propeller simulation and load-specification methods, vibration damping solutions, environmentally friendly lubricants, measurement technology, and others were also developed as part of the ArTEco project.

Besides VTT and Wärtsilä, ATA Gears, Katsa, Finnish Transport Safety Agency, Tampere University of Technology, SKF, TU Luleå, Klingelnberg and TU Dresden are involved in the project, which received funding from Business Finland, Sweden’s Sjöfartsverket and state funding in Germany.