The technology group Wärtsilä has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Aalto University and three other Finnish universities to collaborate on developing world-class research into sustainable future applications for internal combustion engines.
The academic institutions participating in this Engine Research Initiative (ERI) programme are Aalto University, Tampere University of Technology, Åbo Akademi University, and the University of Vaasa. The ERI aims to create an open research ecosystem wherein cutting-edge technologies involving internal combustion engines can be developed together with other partners and matured to meet the evolving future needs of the shipping and power production sectors.
‘This type of ecosystem approach represents a unique cooperation between industry and academia, and is something that has never before been seen in Finland. Together, making use of our own individual competences and areas of expertise, we shall endeavour to develop sustainable energy solutions based on the use of combustion engines, to the benefit of all concerned,’ said Kari Hietanen, Wärtsilä’s Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations and Legal Affairs.
‘Aalto University and Wärtsilä have cooperated successfully for decades. We have developed together new technologies and solutions in many research and student projects. We are happy to provide our deep expertise in engine research and energy technologies to this programme’, says Tuija Pulkkinen, Aalto University’s Vice President.
Aalto University Vice President Tuija Pulkkinen spoke in the MoU signing ceremony. In the picture also Professor Kari Tammi, Aalto University (left), and Rector Mikko Hupa, Åbo Akademi. Photo: Wärtsilä.
Both the marine and power generating industries are undergoing a period of rapid change and innovation. In the energy sector, conventional power plants are not capable of reacting to the rapid changes in output from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. In the marine industry, energy storage using extended battery capacity and digitalisation are certain to play a major role in future operational systems. Increased communication capabilities and computational power will drastically change the way goods are transported over the seas. The changes will be seen in both the equipment and in the way business is conducted.
The ERI programme will foster a research culture aimed at creating demonstrators involving combustion engines that can respond to future operational needs with environmental sustainability as a central pillar of all platforms developed. The cooperation will also seek to optimise the use of research funding, and will create a dialogue regarding competences and educational needs.
Two projects are already being planned by the ERI programme. The first will seek to ensure the operational availability of engines in autonomous vessels through the use of big data, edge analytics, and optimal date communication via clouds. The second project involves hybrid systems with the integration of batteries, together with new combustion modes aimed at near-zero engine emissions in all operating modes.