Engine-maker Rolls-Royce will supply the propeller for a new ship that travels through Arctic ice transporting highly valuable nickel and copper from Canada to Europe.
Canadian operator of ice-breaking vessels Fednav recently agreed a long term transportation contract with mining company Canadian Royalties to ship nickel from a mine in northern Quebec.
The new ship ice-breaking bulk will be designed and built in Japan by Universal Shipbuilding Corporation and weight 25,000 tonnes with crew and supplies on board.
It will have a reinforced hull to allow it to proceed in continue through ice up to 1.5 metres thick, rising on top of it so that its weight crushes it down.
The 6.5 metre nickel and aluminium propeller from Rolls-Royce will be powered by a 45 tonne diesel engine.
The propeller will be mounted inside a steel nozzle, to give protection from floating blocks of ice while increasing thrust as the ship pushes its way through the ice.
When travelling through open water, the ship uses a third of its power to travel at 13 knots, but when breaking through thick ice, it needs all available power to maintain a speed of three knots, such is the energy exhausted on travelling through the Arctic region.
Neil Gilliver, president of the merchant ship division at Rolls-Royce described it as “one of the toughest shipping routes in the world.”
The ice technology enables the route to stay open all year round so that the region’s valuable cargoes reach Europe.
Fednav already operates the world’s most powerful ice-breaking bulk carrier Umiak I, which regularly has to contend with the most rugged Arctic conditions including hard packed shear ice and icebergs.
Like the new ship, the Umiak I is fitted with a Rolls-Royce propeller that enables the captain to quickly change direction so it can crush the ice down in all directions.
The propeller enables a ship to change speed or direction without having to reverse the rotational direction or speed of the propeller and engine, giving enhanced manoeuvrability while improving fuel efficiency.