Wartsila has announced that the Hercules R&D program to develop large engine technologies, which was initiated jointly in 2004 by the two European engine manufacturing groups, Wartsila and MAN Diesel & Turbo, will continue , pending approval under the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation.

Hercules 2 is aimed at developing a fuel-flexible marine engine that is optimally adaptive to its operating environment. The work will focus on four areas of integrated R&D divided into: WPG 1 - a fuel flexible engine; WPG II - new materials (for engine applications); WPG III - an adaptive powerplant for lifetime performance; and WPG IV - a near zero emissions engine.

This work will build upon and surpass the targets of the previous Hercules projects by going beyond the limits set by regulatory authorities. By combining the very latest technologies, and through the use of integrated solutions, the new project aims to achieve significant reductions in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.

The project includes several full-scale prototypes and shipboard demonstrators that will speed the development of commercially available products. The co-operation between Wartsila and MAN will also involve a number of other European companies, as well as universities and research institutions.

Wartsila said that the work will further accelerate the shipping industry's transition to better fuel efficiency and a significantly reduced environmental footprint, while strengthening the position of the participating partners in the market place.

The consortium is made up of 32 partners, of which 30 percent are industrial and 70 percent are universities and research institutes. The budget is divided between industry and the universities on a 63 percent – 37 per cent basis, respectively.

The original HERCULES programme was conceived in 2002 to develop new technologies to increase marine engine efficiency. The previous projects within this programme ran from 2004 until 2014.