A multinational team of more than 40 European engine component suppliers, equipment manufacturers, universities, research institutions and shipping companies, led by the major diesel engine groups MAN Diesel SE and Wärtsilä Corporation, has successfully completed the major 43-month cooperative research project under the name HERCULES (High Efficiency R&D on Combustion with Ultra-Low Emissions for Ships). A budget of EUR 33 million for the project was partly funded by the European Union (EUR 15 million) and the Swiss Federal Government (EUR 2.5 million).
The results from HERCULES will allow the participating companies to develop marine diesel engines with technologies, components and equipment that will achieve drastically lower gaseous and particulate emissions, while at the same time gaining increased engine efficiency and reliability, thereby reducing fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and engine life-cycle costs. The results of the research are being shared among the participants and are expected to be incorporated in engines introduced during the next ten years or so.
The project addressed the following issues:
- Extreme design parameters
- Advanced combustion concepts
- More-capable turbocharging systems
- Turbocompound 'hot engine'
- Emissions reduction methods
- Emissions after treatment
- Reduced friction engine
- Adaptive and Intelligent engine
MAN Diesel and Wärtsilä have proposed a follow-up to HERCULES in a new large-scale collaborative research project - HERCULES-B, which was announced in October 2006. A proposal was submitted to the European Commission and it is expected to be evaluated by the end of September 2007. The principal aim of the proposed HERCULES-B based on the developed know-how and results of HERCULES, is to considerably improve the efficiency of marine diesel propulsion systems and achieve substantial reductions in fuel consumption and emissions. HERCULES-B is planned to reach beyond today's limits set by the IMO, radically improving the environmental effect of waterborne transport.