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Collaboration between Aalto University and ABB leads to pioneering innovations in sustainable development

We are developing world-class technologies together as the shipping sector is shifting to using electronic, autonomous and emission-free solutions. We collaborate closely also in technologies related to digital twins for electric drives and 5G solutions for power grids. The driver behind the development is electrification accelerated by the energy transition.
Students in a laboratory
Photo: Unto Rautio

At ABB Marine & Ports business unit, the focus is on safe and sustainable shipping relying on zero-emission solutions. In the future, ships sailing at sea will be electric, digital and operate online.

ABB's Azipod® propeller system developed in Finland has been revolutionising shipping for 30 years. It has made it possible for ships to significantly reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. 

‘We make use of Aalto Design Factory's product development facilities in the continuous development of Azipod® products. We have students make their master's theses for us, and also in their summer jobs they have a chance to gather first-hand experience of our products,’ says Mirva Nevalainen, Aalto University alumna and Head of Project Management at ABB Marine.

‘Long-term university collaboration is vital for the continuous development of ABB's expertise,’ says Kalevi Tervo, who earned his Doctor of Science in Technology degree at Aalto and currently leads the global research, development and commercialisation of smart and autonomous ships at ABB.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set a target of halving the greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 2050. In the long run, the aim is to totally eliminate the use of fossil fuels in shipping.

The fuel cell technology is one of the most promising sustainable energy solutions for reducing emissions from shipping. ABB is a pioneer in fuel cell solutions for shipping.

‘We provide students with opportunities to do theses for us and be involved in projects with tangible future impacts very early on in their working careers,’ says Sami Kanerva, Doctor of Science, Electrical Engineering, and Aalto alumnus, who acts as Global Product Manager of fuel cell solutions at ABB Marine.

Energy transition will increase the use of electric solutions

The ongoing energy transition is rapidly electrifying societies as we are seeking solutions for replacing fossil fuels from carbon-neutral electricity. The ABB's five-year Green Electrification 2035 project combines 5G technology and data management with grid technology and new electrical engineering solutions.

‘Having profound expertise and understanding in research related to both power grids and 5G technologies, Aalto University is an important partner in the project,’ says Research Programme Manager Petri Hovila from ABB.

Electrification will significantly increase the use of electric motors and frequency converters, while the industry is being shaken by a digital revolution that is making digital twins for devices and systems an important part of industrial processes. Aalto University is involved in the development of simulation and data models for new electric drives.

‘Many of ABB's success stories in the arena of electric drives, including the Azipod ® propulsion system, frequency converters and electric motors, have been built upon the co-operation between Aalto and ABB. We are responding to the challenges of the energy transition with continuous efforts to develop new products and services,’ says Jari Jäppinen, Technology Manager at ABB Motors & Generators unit.

Text: Marjukka Puolakka

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