STORY Commercial Marine

First mtu gas engine installed in new Lake Constance ferry

Posted on September 22, 2022 by Silke Rockenstein, Images by Stefan Söll

A new ferry powered by two mtu gas engines is joining the Stadtwerke Konstanz fleet on Lake Constance. In a few months, the "Ferry No. 14" is to go into trial operation.
Konstanz, Germany
The first propulsion unit has now been fitted to the brand-new ferry owned by the municipal company of Lake Constance. Rolls-Royce's mtu gas engine is a first for the southern German company's fleet. The other six ferries in the fleet, which provides a round-the-clock shuttle service between the lakeside towns of Meersburg and Constance, are all powered by mtu diesel engines. 'Ferry no. 14', as the fleet's new member is to be known until its naming ceremony, is a sleekly designed, high-tech vessel powered by twin 8-cylinder Series 4000 mtu gas engines, each delivering 746 kW.  
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High speed gas engine with dynamic acceleration capability

The new propulsion unit is suitable for tugs, ferries, pusher tugs and special-purpose vessels. Being the first high-speed gas-only engine able to drive a fixed pitch propeller directly, it also boasts dynamic acceleration capabilities. Furthermore, its nitrogen-oxide emissions fall within the limits of the current IMO III emissions standard without the need for exhaust aftertreatment. Sulfur oxide emissions are zero, while particulate emissions fall below the detectability threshold. “We're hugely proud to see our gas engine powering the new Lake Constance ferry,” said Tobias Kohl, head of marine applications in the Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems.  

“This is a significant project which highlights our strategic aim of providing propulsion solutions that will make the shipping industry even cleaner.”

Tobias Kohl - Director Application Engineering Marine Rolls-Royce

Construction of the municipal company's new ferry is making good progress, with the interior passenger areas already being fitted out. “Workwise, we're back on schedule so as things stand, we'll be able to begin trials at the start of 2023,” said Christoph Witte, technical director of the utility company's ferries. Supported by maritime engineering consultants TECHNOLOG, the utility company began completing the vessel construction on its own at the beginning of the year. Indeed, it can look back on over 35 years of cooperation with Rolls-Royce in ferry propulsion.  

Installing an engine to complete the first drive train marks a milestone – referred to by experts as the 'engine marriage'. “It was a big moment in the construction of our new vessel.   A large mobile crane was used to lift the engine onto the ferry and maneuver it into the engine room,” explained project manager Daniel Kirch.  

Tobias Kohl heads marine application engineering at Rolls-Royce. He sees the mtu gas engine as a way of making shipping on Lake Constance cleaner.

Bio-LNG can significantly improve the life cycle assessment

The ferry is to be powered using Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), the current plan being to procure the fuel from one of the major terminals. “But with the energy revolution, local players might start participating in the market, and that could be an attractive possibility for us,” said Witte. Moreover, successfully fueling the new vessel with bio-LNG would bring a further substantial improvement to its ecological balance sheet.  

The next major step in a few weeks' time will be to install the second drive train at the other end of the ferry. “Then the 8-m ventilation mast will be installed which is part of the safety system,” added Kirch. Outwardly, the new vessel, which will have space for 60 cars and 700 passengers, will much resemble the Lodi, hitherto the youngest member of the ferry fleet.  

Out in the North Sea, in the environmentally protected waters of the Wadden Sea, two catamarans operated by the Doeksen shipping company and also powered by new mtu gas engines have been providing reliable service since 2021. Operators and guests alike appreciate them for their extraordinary quietness, and for the fact that they produce no vibrations, black smoke, or other offensive fumes.  

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