Turbocharging reimagined: Designing the Accelleron X300-L series turbocharger

An image of a cargo ship to demonstrate the new Accelleron X300-L series turbocharger
Accelleron’s next-generation X300-L series turbocharger can revolutionize the low-speed engine market, but what does it do differently to other turbochargers and how was it created? We speak to Simon Ma, Product Manager at Accelleron, to find out.

Accelleron launched the new X300-L series earlier this summer, introducing a new world of flexibility for servicing, potential future fuels and maintenance options. There have been plenty of challenges when it comes to creating the revolutionary new turbocharger, but it’s been worth it for the benefits that Accelleron customers will be able to enjoy. 

Simon Ma, Product Manager at Accelleron, explains: “We have made significant improvements to the components of the X300-L series turbocharger, including the compressor and turbine stages, because we had to. We had a set of opposing targets to cover as many requirements as possible with as little variance as possible, and to achieve that we’ve had to make a few technological leaps.”

Simon is quick to highlight the flexibility on offer from the X300-L turbocharger series, explaining: “If we look to wrap up all of the benefits the X300-L series delivers in one key word, it’s flexibility, primarily in terms of the end customer.

“The redesigned concept allows the cartridge itself to be exchanged in less time, making it possible to exchange during port stays in addition to traditional dry docking. Other advantages, such as turbocharger cut-out, which can result in higher efficiency levels throughout the engine load range, result in tangible fuel savings.”

The need for flexibility and efficiency is particularly important at a time when shipping companies are aiming to reduce emissions and meet stringent IMO and/or regional targets, and Simon adds: “We believe a common pain point for customers is how they can tackle sustainability targets, especially at an IMO level, where there’s a specific need to reduce CO2 emissions.

“One of the most visible ways we can see this happening is through the uptake of alternative fuels – for example, methanolammonia or potentially hydrogen. We need to prepare ourselves for the eventual transition and uptake of such fuels, but because the requirements are not currently clear, we’ve designed the X300-L series to ensure we can react as quickly as possible.”

Reducing the time to market

Simon points out that time to market with the X300-L series will be considerably reduced compared to previous generation turbochargers, enabling ship owners to benefit from alternative fuels far more quickly.

“We have overhead in the design that we haven’t currently utilized. We can hope to achieve higher efficiency levels through a separate compressor stage, for example, that has yet to be developed. Depending on the requirements, this means we’ll be able to react much faster in terms of exchanging specific components, rather than needing to start an entirely new development.”

Time to market can also be cut as components will only need to be designed and created for two different frame sizes with the X300-L series, which compares to five with previous generation turbochargers.

“We hope to satisfy customers much faster,” adds Simon. “Speed is particularly important as we have a 2050 timeline by which the industry is hoping to achieve carbon neutrality, and the deadline is quickly closing. As such, we expect our ability to react quickly to be highly valued.”

Embracing a more holistic approach to design

Creating the X300-L series involved a shift in the way that turbochargers are designed. Previously, Simon explains, turbochargers were designed to meet the engine manufacturer’s requirements. The X300-L series has seen a shift in focus towards the ship owner and end customer as well, creating a far more holistic approach to design.

“The shift in focus towards the end customer can really drive value,” says Simon. “I think it has brought us closer to local divisions and has driven a much stronger collaboration with our service department. It has helped us to understand ship owners much better – to recognize their pains, see challenges from their perspective, and appreciate the uncertainties they’re facing.

“Being conscious of the customer’s needs resulted in greater collaboration with them at an early part of the development phase, setting us on the right path to presenting something tangible that can help our customers to benefit from greater efficiencies.”

Accelleron X300-L series turbocharger

Introducing changes that speed up servicing

The more holistic approach resulted in a turbocharger that’s considerably more flexible when it comes to servicing, benefiting from some notable design choices. For starters, the X300-L series is the first turbocharger for low-speed engines with a cartridge that can be exchanged from the compressor and turbine side.

“We believe this will be a big benefit for the customer,” says Simon. “As soon as the engine is ready to access, either by our team at Accelleron or the crew, we can begin the overhaul. If you’re accessing the cartridge from the turbine side, as with a traditional turbocharger, you need to wait for temperatures to reach a workable level, which can add a considerable amount of time to servicing.”

While we’ve seen such technology on medium and high-speed engines, its inclusion on turbochargers for low-speed engines sets Accelleron apart from rivals. It’s a dramatic shift for a conservative market, but one which will pay dividends when it comes to servicing, maintenance and upgrades.

Using data-enabled services

The X300-L series also features Accelleron’s Turbo Insight technology, helping to identify performance improvement opportunities and highlight when services will be needed well in advance. This is particularly relevant when used in conjunction with the X300-L series’ turbocharger cut-out feature, Simon adds.

“It’s critical that we use data-enabled services to monitor the ship’s turbochargers, because when a turbocharger is being utilized more heavily, the maintenance needs compared to other turbochargers on the engine begin to differ.”

With potentially different maintenance requirements for each turbocharger, there’s no need to try and align servicing with a traditional drydocking schedule. Instead, port stays can be utilized as additional opportunities to address differing maintenance needs, making full use of the component’s lifetime.

Flexibility is further increased by the cartridge concept and the idea of cartridge pooling, says Simon, which guarantees the highest availability. “The advantage of cartridge pooling is that it realizes the minimum time to overhaul a turbocharger, with a new or refurbished cartridge ready at the port to exchange with the existing one on the engine.”

Together, the X300-L series’ smart design and greater efficiencies result in a turbocharger that offers a lot more than previous generations.

Find out more about the X300-L series here

Image credit: Greenoak/Shutterstock