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Power and automation technology firm ABB has been selected to power a Chinese polar science research icebreaker with its Azipod propulsion system.

The Polar Research Institute of China ship, built in China will be equipped with ABB’s two Azipod VI units wihich provide a combined power of 15 MWs.

Polar Research Institute of China party committee secretary Yuan Shao Hong said: "This icebreaker for polar science research is the first one built in China independently.

"Two Azipod VI propulsion thruster will further improve the operability, maneuverability and icebreaking capacity, meeting the high technical requirements of sailing in non-restricted waters and sea area of north and south poles."

ABB’s Azipod propulsion system features a built-in high-efficiency AC motor and fixed-pitch propeller mounted directly on the motor shaft.

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"This icebreaker for polar science research is the first one built in China independently."

The Azipod system has only electrical cables between the power source and the electric motor instead of a complex transmission with gears and shafts as in other mechanical thrusters.

The icebreaker will be able to operate stern or bow first thanks to the Azipod thruster’s ability to turn 360 degrees.

The system is also expected to enhance safety, improve fuel efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.

ABB Turbocharging will also provide A100-M turbochargers, offering turbocharging efficiency and allowing enhanced engine load response suitable for a adverse environment.

The Chinese multifunctional icebreaker will be deployed for science research and has a displacement of 14.3 thousand tons. It can navigate through ice layers with horizontal thickness of up to 1.5m forwards and backwards, with a continuous icebreaking speed of 2-3k.

The new vessel will join the existing the ‘Xue Long’ icebreaker, promoting the development of polar science research in China.

Image: An artist’s impression of the Chinese icebreaker to be fitted with ABB’s Azipod propulsion system. Photo: courtesy of ABB.