Every sailor is familiar with the harsh cough of a diesel engine and the acrid smell of its exhaust. For some it is a sign that the adventure is beginning, for others it is a reassurance that everything is in order on board. A traditional engine is arguably the most important safety feature in your boat, but its days may be numbered. The electric yachting revolution is coming. And although the introduction of electric motors [...]
Every sailor is familiar with the harsh cough of a diesel engine and the acrid smell of its exhaust. For some it is a sign that the adventure is beginning, for others it is a reassurance that everything is in order on board. A traditional engine is arguably the most important safety feature in your boat, but its days may be numbered.
The electric yachting revolution is coming. And although the introduction of electric motors in the marine industry is much slower than in the automotive industry, progress has been made.
The market is still relatively small. The undisputed leader in the production of electric motors, Torqeedo, last year made € 25 million in sales, most of which were for ferries and small boats using outboard motors. But the company also offers a range of engines for yachts ranging from 2 to 50 tons, or roughly 20-60 feet of total length.
However, yachtsmen are in no hurry to purchase new products, and there is a good reason for that: if you plan to cross the ocean and you may face difficult conditions on the water, you rely on your engine to help you avoid danger or fight your way through hopelessness - and sometimes these conditions last for several days.
Even with the current crop of advanced lithium-ion batteries electric system power reserve measured in tens of miles, not hundreds. Thus, a 35-foot monohall with a 10 kW lithium battery (four units totaling 96 kg) has only 24 nautical miles in reserve at 3.8 knots or less than 16 nautical miles on full throttle.
Despite the incredible inefficiency of internal combustion engines, which dissipate more energy in the form of heat and noise than driving, diesel is still ten times more energy intensive than batteries.
“If you look at the cruisers sailing the high seas, you will certainly see diesel,” says the founder and CEO. Torqeedo, Christophe Ballin... "And it's okay that few sailors choose an all-electric motor."
But this does not mean that electric motors are not of interest to yachtsmen - this is far from the case. In the most optimal way for the modern sailor there will be a combination of diesel and electricity in a hybrid propulsion system.
With this approach traditional engine replaced by an electric motor connected to a lithium battery. They can be charged by hydro-generation (where sailing turns the propeller and creates power for the batteries) or by the sun and wind. But when long periods of operation are required, electricity is provided by a self-contained DC generator that can be installed anywhere on board.
This setting is recommended by a Finnish company. Oceanvoltwhich specializes in the cruise sailing market with an electric motor range from 3.7 kW to 15 kW (approximately 10 hp to 45 hp in terms of an internal combustion engine).
"For sailors sailing around the world, we recommend a hybrid system with a standby generator set to support continuous power supply when needed, ”says CEO Oceanvolt Marcus Mustelin... "The propeller, which rotates during sailing and recharges the batteries (taking 0.2-0.4 knots, depending on the boat and conditions), allows us to be practically independent of the generator and use it only for reserve."
The advantage of this system the fact that the generator is needed only on long passages, so the boat maneuvers quite silently in ports and at anchorages.
And a well-designed and properly sized generator is much more efficient at converting diesel fuel to electricity than an engine that was not originally designed for this purpose. Some sailors prefer an integrated hybrid system like the one offered Hybrid-Marine, which is mounted to the existing diesel engine.
They are easier to retrofit and many have the same specs as the full hybrid system, but the downside is that you still need room for the engine.
Until now, most installations have been done by retrofitting existing yachts. But more yacht builders are looking to include an electric propulsion system as an initial equipment. Hanse yachts, the world's third largest yacht manufacturer, is arguably the most innovative today, offering Hanse 315 in the base with an electric drive on the steering wheel.
The system takes up less spaceis much quieter than standard diesel and does not generate vibration or emissions. But Hanse admits that the overall venture has been disappointing so far.
The technology has met with more interest among those who walk on the lakes. Innovative young German brand Bente accommodates motors Torqeedo to its successful 24-foot model originally created for the German Green Lakes.
However, large racing yachts are also interested in lightweight propulsion systems. Just look at Malizia, IMOCA 60preparing for Vendee Globe 2020 years with a lightweight system from Torqeedo.
“A race around the world, not only free of emissions but also generating its own energy, is a very inspiring concept,” says Malizia skipper Boris Herrmann.
Electricity is also making headway in the high-end market, where lithium-ion batteries account for a smaller share of the boat's total cost. 50ft catamaran Privilege 5 and a carbon fiber boat Gunboat 60 have been modified with the kit Torqeedowhile setting Oceanvolt appears on board Swan 57 and completely carbon Agile 42.
Moonwave has two 25kW units Deep bluecapable of being recharged while sailing. There is still a generator on board to provide power for the high seas, but "they barely use the generator, leaving it for emergencies," says Ballin of Torqeedo.
Spirit yachts also develops an electrical installation for its flagship Spirit 111due to be presented this summer. With four large 40 kW lithium batteries on board and a 100 kW motor, the yacht will be able to run silently for hours, although she also has a 100 kW diesel generator in reserve.
“Our focus is not on the driving force per se,” explains the director. Spirit Nigel Stewart- but on the harmonious operation of equipment, from the galley and hot water to heating, air conditioning, hydraulics, etc. " The British shipyard is also building a 65-foot using hybrid technology. Oceanvolt and a 44-foot with only an electric motor.
But between races on one side and advanced cruisers on the other, there is a bit of a dip down the middle. By confession Torqeedoyachtsmen have not been the focus of the electric revolution, but that must change. "We are a little late with sailing," admits Ballin, "but this will be fixed in the next five to eight years."
What does this actually mean? Well, first of all, it means system integration. If that doesn't sound revolutionary enough, imagine an on-board installation where solar panels, hydro generators, batteries, generators and motors operate without interruption to ensure that the yacht has enough power around the clock. "This is what people are willing to pay for: enough energy, incl. - for heating or air conditioning during the night, ”says Ballin
.The future of hybrid sailing
Soon Torqeedo plans to use a new DC generator specifically designed for hybrid sailboats. Its existing prototype is designed WhisperPower and provides a power of 25 kW.
The generator will be designed to operate at optimal rpm, while Smart converter will separate the battery voltage from the charging voltage for greater efficiency.
With boats, as with cars, the breakthrough that will be critical has to do with battery capacity. Bye power reserve on an electrical installation not comparable to diesel, there will be many skeptics. And that is unlikely to happen for ten or more years, Ballin said.
"Theoretically, in laboratories batteries testedthat are ten times more effective than lithium, he explains. - And if this happens, the gasoline era will end. But now we are trying to combine a long-term vision with a short-term perspective. ”
Meanwhile, the widespread technology is based on lithium-manganese-cobalt, and the technological development process adds 5-8% every year. For example, Bmw recently announced that her battery i3 the next generation used by the system Deep Blue by Torqeedo, will be able to support 40 kWh of power - an increase of 33% for the same size, weight and almost the same cost.
Another direction of development is associated with the screw. Most cruisers use a folding or regular propeller designed for diesel engines. But research Torqeedo shows that high motor torque is optimal for variable pitch propellers.
And yet it is precisely Oceanvolt took care of the issue of screws especially for electric motors with their own system Servo Propwhich is said to be more efficient at the front on the 30%, better at the stern on the 100% and better at the 300% in regeneration mode.
Oceanvolt says such a propeller can deliver about 500 watts to the batteries at just 5 knots - the average pace of a 30-foot monohull yacht. At 6 knots the figure rises to about 800 watts, at 7 knots you get 1.2 kW for the larger ocean cruiser.
“A new technology at its start can rarely compete in price with an existing one,” says Mustelin.
However, we have done so, and today electrical systems are offered at a fairly reasonable price. competitive cost... Add to that the fact that the electrical system is virtually maintenance-free, and the total cost of ownership translates into electricity. "
So you may not hear their "quiet footsteps", but expect to see more and more electrically powered boats on the water as you continue. "Electric revolution".
A key part of attraction electric motor relies on the idea that a smaller engine can do the same job as a larger diesel. There are two points here. First, the diesel engine is not an efficient power-to-thrust converter, generating a lot of heat and noise in the process. Secondly, the torque characteristics of the electric motor are much better than those of the diesel.
Mustelin says that Oceanvolt's 10 kW engine “easily outperforms” the 30 hp diesel. “Typically, the boat's maximum speed will be slightly lower (0.5-1.0 knots) than when using a comparable diesel engine, but at the same time the boat will maintain speed better in rough seas and headwinds due to more high torque. Also maneuverability will be much better in the confined space of marinas ”.
This is because combustion engines only achieve peak power (and maximum torque) over a small speed range. Torque is an indicator of the force of rotation, in the case of a boat, the rotation of the propeller. The diesel engine develops optimal torque at 1800-2000 rpm, while the electric motors develop it from 0 to 2000 rpm. This allows electric motors to use higher efficiency propellers that are thinner and have a steeper pitch.
Alternator on "steroids"
It took years and over $ 10 million to develop, but a renowned yacht expert Nigel Calder helped design an alternator so powerful that it eliminates the need for a generator on board.
Mounted on the engine, Integrel can produce five to ten times more power. Behind the system is at least 10 kWh of lead-acid batteries (lithium are optional), as well as chargers and inverters Victron.
“If you use an engine, it charges the batteries; if you are in neutral, he will know that the generator is in stand-alone mode and will switch to this algorithm, Explains Calder. "It is likely to be cheaper than installing a generator and eliminates the problem of through housings, cooling circuits, long run times and maintenance."
Case study: Dufour 382 Alcyone
Built by the company Dufour in 2016, Alcyone was immediately re-equipped with an engine SD15 Oceanvolt with a lithium battery of 14 kW / h. Owners Michael Melling and Diana Kolpak also received a direct current generator with a capacity of 8 kW / h to increase the power reserve. Equipment costs were € 30,600 for the engine and battery system, plus an additional € 13,744 for the generator, and the installation cost was around € 8,000.
They charter a boat near Vancouver to explore places where quiet, clean traffic is a condition of the sale. “Nothing spoils the joy of sailing or a secluded anchorage like the noise and smell of diesel engines,” they explained. - System installation Oceanvolt in our new boat saved us from this. This is the path of the future. "
Charter manager Merion Martin said the conversion has also proven popular with charter clients, adding, “The main benefit of the unit is that it uses about 40% less fuel than a standard diesel engine during a week's charter. But herself the system takes some getting used to, and troubleshooting can be challenging. "
Small electrification of yachts
Meanwhile, electric motors are actively appearing on board yachts. We are talking about hangers Torqeedo and E-propulsion which company Interparus supplies its clients for yacht tenders. According to Sasha Goron, head Interparus Yachting, about 80% yachtsmen are completing their tuziks with electric outboards. They are satisfied with the lightness of the motor, ease of use and silence while driving.
Please contact us for all questions and we will share with you the experience of operating these motors.
+33 644 14 21 68 WhatsApp, Sasha Goron
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