Finnish Project Seeks Breakthrough Clean Propulsion Technology

clean propulsion technology

Published May 4, 2021 4:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

A consortium of Finnish research organizations along with companies in the maritime, motor and battery sectors, are working together researching new solutions for clean and efficient marine and off-road transport. Responding to the tightening of emissions regulations and efforts to achieve decarbonization, the project is focusing on researching and developing products from the most promising and innovative power technologies, including motors, hydrogen, exhaust after treatment, and the application of smart technology.

Led by the University of Vaasa, the Clean Propulsion Technologies project is expected to run until the spring of 2023 and includes participation by two of Finland’s leading motor manufacturers, Wartsila and AGCO Power, along with shipbuilder Meyer Turku. According to Vaasa, this cooperation creates a solid foundation, strengthened by the expertise of the project partners, which will help to succeed in the growing global competition in the industry.

“Our common goal is to secure the position of a global technology leader for the Finnish power equipment industry by creating a common vision and sustainable business solutions,” says Assistant Professor Maciej Mikulski from the University of Vaasa. Mikulski is the director of the Clean Propulsion Technologies project.

The most significant expected technical results of the project are a ground-breaking medium-speed engine working in fuel-flexible Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) mode and a high-speed hydrogen engine solution. Designing and implementing an optimal predictive powertrain control architecture for hybrid propulsion is also on the agenda.

The research will also focus on the further development of dual-fuel engine technology to enable a drastic reduction in methane emissions at low and partial load, selective catalytic reduction (SCR) control technology improvements, and the development of machine learning control technology for greater accuracy in engine automation and control.  They will also further focus on developments in advanced after-treatment measures aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent.

"Developing solutions together with the Engine Research Initiative ecosystem and other technology leaders is the most efficient way to produce internal combustion engine solutions for a sustainable and low-carbon future," said Christer Wik, Wärtsilä's Laboratory Manager, and Lauri Pessinen, Project Controller.

The efforts of the project are aimed at ensuring compliance with emission and greenhouse gas regulations in the marine and off-road transport segments by 2035. In the longer term, the goal is to develop a technological roadmap for compliance with the IMO’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2050.

A total of nine Finnish companies are participating in the research, including Wärtsilä Finland, AGCO Power, Meyer Turku, Napa, Dinex Finland, Proventia, Geyser Batteries, Bosch Rexroth, and APUGenius. The six research organizations include the University of Vaasa, Aalto University, University of Tampere, Åbo Akademi University, VTT, and LUT University. 

Business Finland, the Finnish Government’s organization for innovation funding and trade, travel, and investment promotion, has granted nearly $10 million, which is just over half the total funding, with the companies and universities funding the remainder of the $18 million budget.