Kaiserwerft and Voith are unveiling an exciting new propulsion system at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. An evolution of Voith’s extensively tested and proven inline thrusters and propulsion systems used on numerous ships, this new compact magnetic propulsion system, which does away with the gearbox and conventional shafts, could be a game changer for large yachts.
Kaiserwerft, a German yachtbuilder specialized in light composites, has worked closely with the Voigt engineering group on the first yacht application of this innovative system, a 148-foot (45-meter) yacht to be built entirely in carbon and Kevlar composites. The first yacht of a series of three yachts designed with the Franck Muller Yacht Design and Engineering Group is already under construction at one of Kaiserwerft’s facilities in Antalya, Turkey. Muller, who is well known for his extraordinary Swiss-made time pieces, makes his entrée in the world of yacht design with this exciting new project, specially designed to work with the Voith propulsion system.
The project is more than promising. Tank tests conducted in Austria at the Vienna model basin just a few weeks ago have shown the hull and propulsion system to yield significantly reduced fuel consumption (about 40 percent at 16.5 knots). However, the benefits go beyond desirable fuel efficiency. With no gearbox or traditional shafts, Voith’s amazingly compact self-contained unit, which includes sturdy and light carbon rotor blades driven by an integrated permanent magnetic ring motor directly connected to the vessel’s generator, creates much fewer vibrations and noise. Generators can easily be insulated in a dedicated room (as they often are already on larger yachts) for further sound-dampening and greater onboard comfort. For yachts especially, another great benefit is that the whole setup is compact, allowing designers to dedicate more space to interior accommodations (much like “pod” systems on smaller boats). Voith’s inline thrusters and propulsors, extensively tested on ships of all kinds, have shown to provide excellent control for forward and side motion as well as dynamic positioning, meaning they can keep the vessel in the same position without the use of anchors, an application that could be of great interest to yachts traveling in places such as the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, environmentally sensitive yacht owners will also appreciate the fact that the units use water rather than oil as lubricant, minimizing the risk of damaging leaks.
Another advantage is that the Voith system works in combination with conventional diesel engines from Caterpillar or MTU. In fact, all individual components and technologies have been tested extensively in various applications. However, the whole package and its application to the yachting sector are quite new.
Kaiserwerft, which has been building yachts since 1989, has new owners who are steering the international company in a bold new direction.
The builder will be exhibiting a model of the Voith’s inline propulsion unit it will use on its new Kaiser 45 at the Fort Lauderdale show. You can find Kaiserwerft inside the Yacht Builders Tent at booth 675.