The HERCULES-Beta research project proposal was recently approved by the European Commission.
HERCULES-Beta represents a major international cooperative effort to maximise fuel efficiency combined with ultra-low emissions and to develop future generations of optimally efficient and clean marine diesel engines. As such, HERCULES-Beta aims to surpass the current limits set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to radically improve the environmental performance of waterborne transport.
HERCULES-Beta began on 1 September 2008 with a budget of EUR 25 million and it is planned to run for 36 months. The project consortium has 32 participants, including engine-component suppliers, equipment manufacturers, universities, research institutions and shipping companies from 10 European countries. HERCULES-Beta is the second phase of the HERCULES programme, which was conceived in 2002 as a long-term strategic R&D plan. The project was initiated by Europe’s two major engine manufacturers, Wärtsilä Corporation and MAN Diesel. Diesel propulsion systems currently power 99% of the world fleet.
The project’s principal aim is to reduce marine diesel engine fuel consumption by 10% and to improve the efficiency of marine diesel propulsion systems to more than 60%, significantly reducing CO2 emissions as a result. A further aim of the project is to target ultra-low exhaust emissions by eliminating 70% of NOx and 50% of particulates from marine engines by 2020.
HERCULES-Beta comprises 54 subprojects and is funded by the European Commission’s Framework Program 7 (FP7, Theme Transport).