Marine research adventure

Research vessels are travelling from the tropics to the arctic, gathering data on marine pollution, climate change or marine biology. These voyages place high demands on vessel equipment and propulsion systems. Your companion around the world: SCHOTTEL technology and service

For ages, research voyages have stirred our imagination. Trekking through farflung territories, scientists brave the unbending forces of nature to return home with important knowledge. however, the voyages are not simply undertaken out of a sheer thirst for adventure. Today, more than ever, the focus is on fields with far-reaching consequences for humans, the environment and the economy – whether it is climate change, research on marine raw materials, deep-sea biodiversity, geodynamics or geohazards. since the vessels operate around the world, they require reliable service and maintenance experts for the propulsion equipment in order to withstand the often lengthy missions. SCHOTTEL is thus a partner in demand.

"Ships do not regularly travel to their home port. The entire world is really their home," notes Joachim Müller, Senior Sales Manager for the Tugs & Offshore Energy segment at SCHOTTEL. "This is why they also must be maintained from anywhere in the world. Thanks to our international network, we at SCHOTTEL are well able to carry this out."

Strictest propulsion systems requirements

In earlier days, already existing ships were used for marine research – for example, by moving the canons off the ships onto dry land and thus making room for measuring instruments and further equipment. Today, research vessels are primarily floating platforms, equipped with relevant equipment and precisely tailored to the high demands of science. "For example, in order to send remote-controlled diving robots into the depths of the sea, the vessel must be highly manoeuvrable and be able to hold its position precisely and automatically against wind and currents for many days," explains Joachim Müller. "A further criterion: noise emission.

The propulsion systems are designed for a minimal introduction of noise into the water so that research using highly sensitive sensors is affected as little as possible. This is a challenging task for our developers who have access to state-of-the-art computer tools and calculation methods."

An important element in meeting these requirements is the SCHOTTEL Pump Jet, which is installed in numerous research vessels around the world. Not only does it ensure low-noise propulsion, but it also makes it possible to mano euvre in shallow water – where even ground contact is possible. An important advantage in marine research where the success of a mission can depend on the pin-point accuracy of the positioning.

internationally in demand

SCHOTTEL technology is installed in research vessels around the world, including vessels from these countries: China, Germany, India, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, USA.

Flagship of technology

Around the world, older vessels are being replaced with new, technologically impressive research vessels. SCHOTTEL has been on board here for many years, delivering propulsion and steering systems which are not only tailored to the special requirements of the marine research vessel sector but also contribute to sustainability and cost-effectiveness. 

On the German research vessel "Sonne", for example, a combination of a SCHOTTEL Pump Jet and two SCHOTTEL Rudderpropellers,which provides the ship with maximum flexibility for all research purposes, is used. The "Sonne" has also been awarded a renowned German environmental certificate for its efficiency and environmentally friendly operation. The vessel runs exclusively on low-sulphur diesel fuel. Modern catalytic converters reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in order to pollute the environment as little as possible. 

It all starts, however, with the overall efficiency of the propulsion system and the particular efficiency of the propeller. With the expertise to fully exploit all the possibilities here, low energy consumption is achieved right from the outset. After all, sustainability is becoming increasingly important – and not just in marine research.

From construction to use in research

State authorities such as the German federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) often issue a call for tenders for the construction of a research vessel. Upon completion, shipping companies apply for the operation of the vessel. National and international research teams then submit voyage proposals, which are then evaluated and, if applicable, approved by a scientific committee.

The future is sustainable

The latest research vessels, for example, have gas-electric motors installed which minimize both nitrogen oxide as well as sulphur emissions. This not only serves to protect the environment but also allows scientists, for example, to obtain realistic air measurements. A further important component of environmental protection is the SCHOTTEL LEACON system, which ensures that, even in the event of a leak, no oil from the propulsion system enters the seawater and the ship can continue its mission. "For instance, a vessel researching biodiversity in the Antarctic ought not leave a trail of oil behind it," stresses Joachim Müller. The system has also been recognized by US authorities, allowing correspondingly equipped vessels to operate in US waters – even if they do not use biodegradable oil as a lubricant.

No matter where the adventures of research vessels lead in the future – SCHOTTEL will continue to support the marine research vessel sector in not only gathering knowledge but also meeting the highest requirements for propulsion technology, cost-effectiveness and environmental protection.