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Hybrid-Electric Roboship Is Trailblazing Green Shipping in Japan

Several companies in the Japanese shipping industry, including giants Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Mitsubishi Corporation have joined forces with the goal of reaching the net-zero goal by 2050. One of the projects of this new consortium is a hybrid-electric propulsion vessel named Roboship.
Roboship is a Japanese hybrid-electric carrier that will enter service in 2023 7 photos
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Roboship is the name of an innovative biomass fuel carrier that will be powered by a fully standardized, electric propulsion system for emissions-free operations and lower noise and vibration levels. The vessel will be 70-meter-long (229 feet), with a 499 GT. Honda Heavy Industries is the builder, with ABB providing the complete electric propulsion package that will be replacing conventional engines.

Called the Onboard DC Grid, this power distribution system was designed to enable zero-emissions operations while maintaining effective speed and range. Its compact design also allows more room for cargo, and a more versatile layout of the vessel, due to the fact that it doesn’t require main switchboards and heavy transformers. It also claims to offer lower maintenance costs.

Another advantage is the system’s modular structure, which means that it can be integrated on all kinds of vessels, from large ocean-going carriers to the smallest ones that typically operate in inland waters.

According to representatives of the e5 Lab consortium, ABB’s technology is unique when it comes to coastal vessels. And the fact that the system has a “high digital compatibility” will also help reduce the shipping crew’s workload.

Roboship will be powered by this award-winning system, which includes motors, batteries, generators, hardware, and DC switchboards. Moreover, a remote diagnostic system will be available for constant monitoring and remote support when needed.

As a hybrid-electric vessel, Roboship will also be compatible with several eco-friendly alternatives to conventional marine fuel, from biofuel and LNG (liquefied natural gas) to hydrogen and ammonia. It will be the first of the zero-emission vessels developed and launched by the e5 Lab consortium, set to enter service next year.

Editor's note: Gallery showing various e5 Lab concept vessels

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