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Gas turbines and generator systems for yachts

Gas turbines and generator systems for yachts

Gas turbine generators

A pioneering installation on board an inland waterways tanker operating on the River Rhine is showing how gas turbines can be used as efficient and clean electricity generators.

This 110m barge has two gas turbine-powered generators that not only supply the vessel’s electrical power, but also can provide the domestic hot water, heating and air-conditioning – and they do this while generating very low emissions that can exhaust without any treatment to meet stringent regulations.

It opens the door to a new generator concept for superyachts and Pon Power of Holland, who developed the system, is keen to explore this market sector.

The barge’s system uses a pair of US-built Capstone C30 30kW gas turbines coupled to the vessel’s generators. They not only provide the electrical power, but the hot exhaust gases are passed through a heat exchanger, which in turn provides the hot water for domestic use and heating. Part of this exhaust heat is also fed to an absorption chiller for the air conditioning, making the most of energy that would normally be lost.

The exhaust from the turbine shows a significant reduction in harmful emissions compared with a normal diesel, and smooth running and low noise levels improve the on-board environment, reducing the need for insulation.

The age of gas

This particular vessel uses natural gas for both main and auxiliary engines. The turbines operate very happily on this gas as well, but they also can be programmed to use most common fuels such as diesel and jet fuels, which makes them suitable for superyachts.

The exhaust from the turbine shows a significant reduction in harmful emissions compared with a normal diesel, and smooth running and low noise levels improve the on-board environment, reducing the need for insulation.

Capstone currently offers three models producing 30, 60 and 200KW, which would meet most generator requirements. They are used on many land-based applications and have been approved by Lloyd’s Register of Shipping. The turbines are equipped with special bearings that require no lubricating oil, eliminating another possible source of contamination.

There is obviously considerable potential for superyachts, particularly high-performance yachts, where the low weight and compact size of the units could create a performance bonus. The available sizes of the turbines should meet the auxiliary requirements of most yachts and the quiet and absence of vibration could lead to peaceful nights in the marina.

Originally published in Superyacht Owners’ Guide to Propulsion 2012.

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