A new propulsion system for the Romanian Navy Forces frigates

Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitization visiting COMOTI
February 2, 2023
COMOTI`s contribution to Mars Sample Return
February 2, 2023
Development and testing of a new propulsion system for the Romanian Naval Forces frigates           
      With a vast experience in the design, testing and development of aviation gas turbine applications in the energy field, COMOTI responded to the request of the National Navy to find solutions to improve the performance of the frigates.         
        Therefore, COMOTI has developed, implemented and tested a solution to replace the old propulsion systems based on Rolls Royce TYNE RM1C type turbomotors - 1960 generation, long since retired from the equipment of Royal Navy UK frigates, within a research and development project named TURBONAV, project won in a "top-down" competition for SOLUTIONS type research projects.           
      Through the TURBONAV project, the full name of which is "Development and implementation of modern solutions related to gas turbine propulsion systems and their related systems", COMOTI contributed to raising the level of national security and strengthening national defense by implementing innovative solutions to the technical and technological problems identified at the frigates of the  Romanian Navy Forces.         
        For over 20 years, COMOTI has developed a strategic partnership with the Canadian company Pratt & Whitney (P&WC) collaborating on the development of industrial applications of aviation gas turbines. Thus, among others, COMOTI designed and developed the first post-1990 cogeneration plant in the country using a P&WC – ST18 turbo engine. Since 2000, COMOTI is an authorized P&WC solutions integrator.            
     In the first stage of the TURBONAV project, COMOTI carried out research activities and specialized studies to define and establish the architecture of a new propulsion system intended for T22 type frigates, by using the ST40M turbo engine manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Canada, a turbo engine of 2005 generation, efficient, silent and with a 10-15% lower fuel consumption compared to the Rolls Royce Tyne RM1C turbo engine.          
       For the command and control of the new naval propulsion group, named GPN-T22-ST40M, a modern command and control system of the group was designed and realized within COMOTI, using process computers and proprietary software, capable of ensuring safe operation of the propulsion unit integrated into the ship's command and control system, after the manufacture of all components, the installation of the GPN-T22-ST40M naval propulsion unit in the COMOTI stand, for testing.         
        The performance parameters of the naval propulsion group were determined, obtaining superior performance values, compatible for the cruise propulsion of a T22 type ship, and following these results, the final configuration of the Naval Propulsion Group assembly The GPN-T22-ST40M was installed on a T22 type ship of the Romanian Naval Forces, fully integrating this configuration into the ship's propulsion system.               
  The testing of the GPN-T22-ST40M Naval Propulsion Group on the ship was carried out both at the quay and underway, being carried out with the ship moving, in the Black Sea area, and successfully completed, demonstrating that the GPN-T22-ST40M provides the necessary propulsion for the ship to successfully fulfill the missions intended for the T22 type frigates.               
  The successful integration of the GPN-T22-ST40M Marine Propulsion Group provides a 10-15% reduction in fuel consumption, higher cruising speed, longer overhaul life, and lower maintenance cost and less repair compared to the old Rolls Royce propulsion system based on the Tyne RM1C turbo engine.            
     Another major advantage is the fact that all the mechanical and automation components for the equipment and installation on the ship are executed in Romania. Also, maintenance is provided in Romania for the entire life cycle of the product, and the solution, with small modifications, can also be applied to other types of ships of the Romanian Navy Forces, for example, missile-carrying ships.
TURBONAV objectives
The TURBONAV project had and achieved the following objectives:
General objectives:
1. The replacement of the old naval propulsion systems of the Romanian Navy Forces with new generation, high-performance ones that meet both the national requirements and those of the North Atlantic Alliance;
2. The development of emerging technologies for systems related to propulsion systems, with application in the marine environment;
3. Increasing the level of environmental protection by minimizing the impact on marine flora and fauna.

Specific objectives:
1. Identify, implement and test a solution to replace the old propulsion systems based on a turbo engine already out of production and with enormous life extension costs, with new, state-of-the-art systems with increased performance, lower consumption and costs significantly reduced maintenance.
2. Improving the performance of the propulsion system by using a new turbo engine with more than 15% higher thermal efficiency and a lower fuel consumption.          
In order to achieve these objectives, specialists with rich experience and expertise were co-opted in projects to identify and implement turbo engine replacement solutions. The human resources involved in the development of the project were selected so that the level of cooperation leads to an effective collaboration at the institution and consortium level. The overlapping of skills was avoided, aiming for a level of mutual complementation that covers all the activities in the implementation plan, and the positioning of each team member was carried out so that the training was consistent with the activities in which he is involved, ensuring the achievement of the general and specific objectives of the project.

The statement of Mr. President – General Director Dr. Eng. Valentin SILIVESTRU:               
  "The TURBONAV project opened up new horizons in the naval field by developing unique solutions in Romania for the propulsion with modern turbine engines of the Romanian Navy Forces T22-type ships, solutions that led to the expansion of the capabilities and the resource of the Navy's frigates and optimization of emerging technologies for propulsion systems.
I would also like to thank the decision-makers, both those from the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalization for finding financing solutions for the research-development project and acquisition of the demonstrator, as well as those from the management of the Romanian Navy Forces who trusted and encouraged our project.            
     Without this financial support, without this trust, this unique achievement in the country would have not existed!               
  Through the success achieved, this project has opened new opportunities for collaboration with the stakeholders in the naval field, ensuring both the improvement of the performance of the propulsion systems of other types of ships, as well as increasing the level of environmental protection by minimizing the impact on marine flora and fauna.                
Looking to the future, I believe that this project that we are proud of is landmark that will last on the honor board of the National Navy and that will allow a better connection and positioning in relation to the objectives of the new National Research-Development Strategy."
The project team

TURBONAV was created by a Consortium composed of:
COMOTI – Romanian Research & Development Institute for Gas Turbines – Project Manager, responsible for over 90% of the project's activities;
ROMAERO SA – Partner;
"Mircea cel Batran" Naval Academy - Partner;
Military Technical Academy – Partner;
INCD Electrical Engineering – ICPE-CA – Partner.