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Posted on April 21, 2011 by  & 

A catamaran powered by electricity from renewable sources

A team from the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering and the Barcelona School of Nautical Studies, of UPC-Barcelona Tech, has been participating in the development of an ecological catamaran, constructed by Drassanes Dalmau and propelled using electric energy, with a seating capacity of 150. The Eco Slim is the first seagoing craft of these characteristics in Spain and claimed to be the largest in Europe. For contrast, the Turanor boat in Germany, made with the involvement of Grove Boats SA, carries few passengers but will circumnavigate the world soon. Kopf Solarschiff solar boats carry up to 150 people but they are designed for inland lakes and rivers. Callender Designs has a supryacht with three forms of energy harvesting.
With a length of 24 meters and a width of ten and a half meters, the boat is intended mainly for tourism and can cruise at eight knots. It runs on a combination of the energy generated by solar panels, wind turbines, hydrogen batteries and diesel-electric thermal generators, which reduces its impact on the air and marine environment and avoids noise pollution.
In Europe there are similar boats powered by electric energy, but they are for inland waterways and do not have the same seating capacity. The Eco Slim catamaran is lighter and suffers less drag than traditional boats, and can therefore achieve the same performance using less powerful engines. This reduces the cost and environmental impact of the boat.
Two innovations
The team from UPC-Barcelona Tech—formed by Jordi Llorca, of the Institute of Energy Technology (INTE), and the professors Ricard Bosch and Víctor Fuses, of the Department of Electrical Engineering, with the PhD student Oriol Gallemí—designed the propulsion system, which is one of the boat's innovations. This system is based on the use of two high-performance electric motors connected to multiple energy sources: a diesel generator and a set of 90 lead batteries. These batteries can be charged either by connecting to the generator or the two wind turbines and 40 solar panels installed on the deck of the boat.
All the elements involved in the energy supply system, which in fact form a microgrid, are controlled by an electronic management system (central control), which autonomously regulates the different sources of energy with which the boat operates. This electronic management system and the navigation instruments are powered by a lead battery and 2-kW hydrogen battery, which improves their autonomy and reliability.
With this propulsion system, the catamaran can sail continuously for four hours at six or seven knots. The motor and batteries can be recharged in an hour and a half.
In addition, the team from UPC-Barcelona Tech designed the software for the boat's driver (the system that makes the motor start and stop) and for the electronic management system. Unlike other similar boats, the operation of the Eco Slim's whole electric and electronic system can be viewed on two screens, one of them a touch screen, installed in the boat's control panel.
Design of the hull
The other innovation of the Eco Slim is the design and construction system of the hull, made by Drassanes Dalmau, with help from ISONAVAL. It is the first hull to be built in Spain using a vacuum infusion system. The port and starboard were made separately and then joined together, similar to the process used in the manufacture of car bodywork. This has reduced its weight by 50% compared to conventional models. Also, thanks to the hydrodynamic lines of the boat, its hydrodynamic resistance has been reduced by 20%. These characteristics are an advantage for the propulsion of the boat - as it weighs less and it does not need such a powerful engine.
The project has been carried out with a grant from the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.
For more attend the IDTechEx event Electric Vehicles - Land Sea Air Europe 2011 in June.
Also read the new report Marine Electric Vehicles 2011-2021 .
Source: UPC
Image source: UPC
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