HERCULES was conceived in 2002 as a long-term R&D Programme, to develop new technologies for marine engines:
- To increase engine efficiency, thus reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
- To reduce gaseous & particulate emissions.
- To increase engine reliability.
The R&D Programme HERCULES is the outcome of a joint vision by the two major European engine manufacturer Groups MAN & Wärtsilä, which together hold 90% of the world's marine engine market. It was the first time that these two Groups participated together in a project with commonly defined Research Areas.
Phase I of the Programme HERCULES materialized as the FP6 Integrated Project "I.P. HERCULES" jointly funded by the E.U. and Swiss Government, as shown in the Figure below.
The I.P. HERCULES (A) structure of work comprised 54 subprojects, grouped into 18 Tasks and 9 Workpackages, spanning almost the complete spectrum of marine engine technology. The duration of I.P. HERCULES (A) was 43 months, up to September 2007.
The I.P. HERCULES (A) Consortium had 42 partners (participant organisations) with a total budget of 33M€.
HERCULES- B was the Phase II of the original Programme concept. The project HERCULES-B run from September 2008 until December 2011 with 32 partners and 26 M€ budget partly funded with 15M€ by the E.U. within the Framework Programme for R&D FP7. The general targets for emissions and fuel consumption were retained in HERCULES-B. However, based on the developed know-how and results of I.P. HERCULES (A), it was possible to narrow down the search area, to focus on potential breakthrough research and to further develop the most promising techniques for reduction in specific fuel consumption (and CO2 emissions) and Ultra-low gaseous and particulate emissions.
The technological themes of the HERCULES initiative have, since its inception in 2002, been higher efficiency, reduced emissions, and increased reliability for marine engines. However, for taking marine engine technology a step further towards improved sustainability in energy production and total energy economy, an extensive integration of the multitude of new technologies identified in Phase I and Phase II is required.
The present HERCULES-C project is the Phase III of the HERCULES programme and addresses this challenge by adopting a combinatory approach for engine thermal processes optimization, system integration, as well as engine reliability and lifetime. In this way, HERCULES-C aims for marine engines that are able to produce cost-effectively, the required power for the propulsion of ships throughout their lifecycle, with responsible use of natural resources, and respect for the environment. The project has a budget of 17M€ and is funded with 9M€ by the E.U. within FP7.