Inland waterway.jpg

Inland waterway vessel repowers and new construction have Electro-Motive Diesel’s marine diesel engine business active, including a pair of 710 series for the new AEP Mariner.

Brown and blue water vessel construction and repowering activities have picked up significantly in the United States and internationally over the past couple of years, giving tug and riverboat operators pause to consider the merits of overhauling an existing fleet or building new vessels outright. In the U.S., the last major building boom for inland waterway vessels ended toward the late 1970s, which makes much of the fleet pushing 40 or more years in service.

The current building/repowering efforts are being driven by two major influencing factors — high fuel prices and tighter emissions standards. “With relatively inexpensive fuel and little in the way of emissions regulations, repowering existing boats could not be justified in the past,” noted Brian Grinter, director, Power Products from Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. (EMD). “Today we have a situation where a number of factors are driving the dra-matic increase in demand we have seen for engines.

“Most engines installed in the 1970s were 16- and 20-cylinder EMD 645 engines, with ratings of 3000 and 4000 horsepower (2237 and 2982 kW), respectively. These engines have now provided close to 50 years of reliable service. The replacement engine of choice has been our 710 series, which was introduced in the late 1980s and offers increased output and improved fuel economy over the 645 series engine,” Grinter said. EMD’s 710 family of two-cycle engines received EPA Marine Tier 2 certifications in May 2006, which includes its E3, E2 and C1 duty cycles. The engines range in output from roughly 1500 to 3725 kW. EPA Tier 2 emissions-compliant engines have been required for U.S. waterways starting in January 2007.

At the forefront of these new marine engine sales is one of its distributors — Inland Power Group — which is based in Carol Stream, Illinois, U.S.A. Inland’s sales of EMD engines have been primarily the models ME8, ME12 and ME 16-710G7C-T2 engines,with ratings from 1491 to 2982 kW, of which 10 have been delivered.Its current customer base that has purchased these engines consists of five U.S. river tow and Great Lakes tug customers. Also, of the very large volume of engines Inland has sold to date, over one-half of the units are destined for repower applications. These deliveries are scheduled through 2011.

“A lot of factors are coming together to create this exciting new sales cycle that we expect could extend at least through 2012,” said Bob Grajek, marine market manager for Inland, “such as an aging fleet, EPA emissions regulations that exist today and even more stringent ones on the horizon, new technology that can increase fuel efficiency as much as 20% and cut lube oil consumption in half. On top of that, our parts business continues to be strong, primarily due to the innovative long-term parts agreements Inland began incorporating a few years back.”

A recent example of new construction activity includes the M/V AEP Mariner, owned and operated by AEP River Operations, an affiliate of the utility company American Electric Power. The company operates 60 towboat and 20 harbor vessels and more than 2850 barges.

AEP Mariner is powered.jpg

The AEP Mariner is powered by twin EMD model ME12-710G7C-T2 diesel engines, each rated 2237 kW.

The AEP Mariner is powered by twin EMD model ME12-710G7C-T2 diesel engines, each rated 2237 kW. Inland also exclusively provided AEP with a fully integrated control and monitoring system manufactured by Sturdy Corp., Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S.A., for EMD’s electronically controlled EPA Tier 2 engines. “With more freight being directed to the inland waterways, the demand for new boats with fuel-efficient, emissions-compliant, and responsive engines is strong.

EMD has increased its capacity for engines driven in large part by the demand in this market segment,” Grinter said. “An additional factor driving today’s new construction is the uncertainty of exactly what the configurations of Tier 3 and Tier 4 engines will be in 2013 and 2014 when the regulations take effect. What we do know is that aftertreatment will add additional cost, weight and maintenance expense when compared to today’s engines. Our job is to minimize these impacts on our customers while meeting the new regulations.

“And in addition to the emissions requirements, fuel prices have certainly gotten everyone’s attention, and as far as repowers go,” Grinter added, “the replacement of a 20-645 engine with a 16-710 engine or a 16-645 with a 12-710 is a relatively easy change that offers significant fuel and oil savings, as well as maintenance savings due to fewer cylinders. This change is also very attractive because most of the equipment onboard is sized properly to fit the new engines, meaning for the most part the engine is the only major component needing to be changed.”

With so many engines sold through 2011 going toward repower applications, Inland’s Grajek said there are fresh concerns about shipyard capacity.“What we are facing now is a lack of shipyard capacity in the U.S., and while some of our customers have locked in production slots, others going forward are finding it difficult to find space for either new construction or repowers. “We are talking about aging fleets of inland waterway vessels,” Grajek reiterated.“There comes a time where something has to give as far as new construction and repowering vessels, and the 2007 Tier 2 emissions regulations along with substantially improved fuel economy has brought us to this point of increased activity in the inland waterways.”

Leave a Reply