Van der Velden Marine Systems is celebrating the first two orders of its Van der Velden® FLEX Tunnel system. The fuel saving propulsion system was realised in close collaboration with the German Development Centre for Ship Technology and Transport Systems. Van der Velden, a Damen subsidiary, sees the orders as a positive sign that the inland shipping market is ready for solutions that provide increased propulsion capacity and reduced fuel consumption.
The first FLEX Tunnel order is for a Rhenus partnership-owned vessel. Van der Velden’s scope of work is a comprehensive package of propulsion elements that includes steering gear with profile rudders, propellers, nozzles and hydrospoilers. Concluding the package is an LCD alarm and display panel and a type 4DS 2000 FLEX tunnel, built in-house at Van der Velden’s facilities in Krimpen aan de Lek, the Netherlands. Construction of the 110-metre vessel, including installation of the FLEX Tunnel, took place at Orsova Shipyard in Romania. After launching on 9 March, the vessel will make its way back to the Netherlands for final outfitting in time for final delivery in the summer.
The second order came from Damen’s LNG-powered EcoLiner – judged by many to be Europe’s greenest inland vessel – that is also expected to be delivered this summer. As well as a Type 4DS 1500 FLEX tunnel, corresponding to a propeller diameter of 1.5 metres, Van der Velden also supplied four Dolphin XR rudders. The EcoLiner demonstrates how the FLEX Tunnel system can be used in conjunction with other energy saving innovations to reduce fuel costs by as much as 25%.
By installing the FLEX Tunnel system, inland and coastal vessel owners can benefit from improved manoeuvrability and speed while profiting from a reduction in fuel costs of up to 10%. The retractable tunnel system ensures optimal water flow in both loaded and empty conditions and all water depths of inland rivers and canals. In the majority of situations, when vessels are loaded and sailing in deeper waters, the FLEX Tunnel is retracted to improve hydrodynamics. The FLEX Tunnel system is brought into play when sailing in shallow water – when it is deployed to ensure sufficient water flow to the propellers and so maintain their efficiency.