Breaking ice and saving energy in the Antarctic


Source: ABB

The solution is currently being installed on the Almirante Irízar, Argentina’s sole icebreaker and a vital link with the country’s research stations, bases and outposts in the frozen wilderness of Antarctica.

Launched in 1978, the Almirante Irízar was seriously damaged in 2007 by a fire that gutted the vessel and destroyed its power and propulsion systems. The 300 crew and passengers had to be rescued at sea and the ship towed into harbor for assessment and repair.

Buenos Aires-based ship repair yard, Tandanor, was awarded the contract to repair the icebreaker, and they in turn selected ABB to provide a complete electrification, propulsion and automation solution as part of the vessel’s extensive repair works and modernization.

The benefits for the icebreaker’s owner, the Argentine Navy, are many. In addition to gaining a revamped and modernized vessel at the cutting edge of icebreaker performance, the navy will also benefit from considerable savings in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

ABB has supplied more than 80 icebreakers with electric propulsion systems and is one of only a few companies that can provide a comprehensive solution of this kind.

For the Almirante Irízar, ABB is supplying a complete power plant and electric propulsion system, as well propulsion and vessel control systems, engineering, installation, commissioning and training – all within a tight delivery deadline to get the icebreaker back into service as quickly as possible.

The solution includes ABB AC motors and ACS6000 variable speed propulsion drives, which provide the fastest and most accurate speed and torque control of any variable speed drive system available. This enables the propulsion system to achieve maximum torque at zero speed whenever the vessel is breaking ice in this, the toughest of operating environments.

The resultant reductions in fuel consumption and harmful carbon dioxide emissions, as well as operating costs and maintenance expenditure, are well documented.

ABB is the world’s leading supplier of power and automation solutions for icebreakers and icegoing vessels, and has recently provided complete solutions for icebreaking oil and shuttle tankers for year-round operation in the Arctic.

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