Within the past few decades, society has seen a steady uptake in the trends surrounding environmental consciousness. More and more consumers are demanding their goods and services be produced and delivered more sustainably. Companies have quickly followed suit, desperately searching for the next great thing to help set them apart from competitors and make a name for themselves as an eco-friendly business.
It’s the age-old concept of supply and demand, and in this case, it’s rather beneficial. A growing demand from consumers for more sustainable products will create a growing supply of these eco-products, allowing the companies to earn their profits while the environment ultimately benefits.
AC vs. PM motors
This is where Rolls-Royce PLC comes in. If your mind automatically jumps too fast and expensive cars, then you’re thinking of the wrong company - sort of.
What started as the collaboration between an engineer and the owner of a car dealership in 1906 soon turned into something that would shape the world of engines as we know it. Rolls-Royce started out creating motors for automobiles and quickly used that expertise for designing aero-engines in response to the growing demand during World War I.
As the decades continued, the company gained a reputation for creating top-notch engines for both jets and automobiles. Though the rise to the top was soon cut short when Rolls-Royce was nationalized by the British Government and split into two companies in 1973; Rolls-Royce Motors – the car manufacturer- and Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC.
This new technological advancement is in reference to the latter company, Rolls-Royce PLC. Rolls-Royce PLC has notoriously incorporated sustainable initiatives into their aero-engine designs whenever possible. This newer collaboration with Kongsberg Maritime’s Permanent Magnet Azimuth thruster (AZ-PM) is no exception. However, before going into this new implementation, the basics of the more commonly used alternating current motors (AC), must first be discussed to better understand how revolutionary the AZ-PM motor truly is.
AC engines have been the standard in machinery such as pumps, automobiles, and compressors since the late 1800s. The AC motor is generally comprised of two standard parts: the outside stator and the inside rotor. The stator contains a series of coils that run through an alternating current and act as the first magnetic field source. The inside rotor is merely attached to the outer stator and provides the second source of a magnetic field.
Together, these two parts work in unison to provide the power for the engine. However, the drawback to this design is the large environmental impact that it creates due to the low efficiency and larger size. AC motors also require a cooling system which adds another layer to costs, space, and energy usage.
The AC counterpart, the PM motor, is somewhat similar, only it is accompanied by strong magnets embedded into the rotor’s surface instead of just the aforementioned coils. These magnets allow for the PM motor to have a constant flux of energy rather than waiting on the collaboration of the stator and rotor to produce the magnetic field. This ultimately saves energy that otherwise would’ve been wasted.
How Does This Involve Rolls-Royce PLC?
Well, Rolls Royce PLC is utilizing the breakthrough of PM motors to manufacture maritime equipment unlike any other. The engineers at Rolls-Royce PLC and Kongsberg Maritime have taken advantage of these advancements to create an engine with a wide array of environmental and economic benefits, such as energy efficiency and space efficiency.
The AZ-PM motor is accredited to a near 50% reduction in the thruster’s oil volume, which can have immense environmental benefits due to the decreased need for extra resources. In addition, and some could argue most importantly, another area to benefit from the AZ-PM motors is marine life. Due to the motor’s overall efficiency, fewer emissions, waste and noise will positively impact marine inhabitants, specifically in the realm of ocean acidification.
Ocean acidification is the process in which the ph. level of the ocean decreases due to the increase in carbon dioxide within the atmosphere. These decreasing ph. levels have caused worry for marine biologists due to the large negative ramifications resulting from the process. A significant decrease in marine population is believed to have a drastic outcome on a society that relies greatly on fishing for food, sport, tourism, and livelihood.
Sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? Well, the bright side is that companies such as Kongsberg Maritime and Rolls-Royce PLC are working endlessly to help prevent scenarios such as the aforementioned from coming to fruition. And though this newer technology will not solve climate change alone, it can certainly help directly and perhaps even more so indirectly in the future of green innovation.