Welcome to ELECTRONS #1, the first Plugboats collection of bits of electric boat news items that are interesting and exciting, but might not each warrant an entire article.
That’s not to say that some of these won’t be covered more completely in the future, but in the meantime, here are some interesting snippets from around the world.
Australian electric hybrid boat now in Stage 3 development
Steber International is an Australian owned and operated family company that has been in boat manufacturing and industrial composite technology since 1947. They have been working with electric engineering group AmpControl and The University of Newcastle to develop an electric hybrid boat for commercial use. The Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has also contributed some funding.
From the Steber blog, September 3:
Buoyed by early successes, Steber International’s first foray into electric hybrid boats has now entered the stage three development phase.
Stage one involved bench testing at Newcastle University followed by stage two, the recent successful sea trials of the hybrid 22ftr on the Manning River at Taree, NSW
Commenting on the sea trails, General Manager, Alan Steber said: “All involved were delighted with the on-water performance. There was no vibration, extremely good torque and a top speed of 40 kph.
“Stage three will involve linking electric and diesel propulsion and also include bollard pull testing at various rpm.
“The hybrid vessel will be ideal for use patrolling harbours and inland waterways running on the electric motor, with sustained power for extended bluewater use coming from the diesel engine”, Mr Steber said.
Sunreef Yachts launches new Eco website
Sunreef Yachts, the world’s leading manufacturer of custom built luxury catamarans, has been around since 2002 and introduced their first electric propulsion model in 2019, the Sunreef 50 Eco-Electric with twin 35kW motors from Sweden’s EPTechnologies.
Since then they have been expanding the Eco line and have decided now that it has grown to include 8 models it deserves a dedicated website all to itself at Sunreef Yachts Eco.com.
There are sailing and power yachts within the portfolio, and hull construction includes use of natural and sustainable materials like volcanic basalt rock and flax/linen composites.
The Sailing Range includes the Sunreef 50, 60, 70 and 80 and under the Sunreef Power banner there are the 60, 70, 80 and 100. There is also a smaller boat with canopy instead of a full roof – the 40 Open Sunreef Power.
Altogether, Sunreef offers just about every combination of reduced emission or zero emission propulsion – sail, battery electric, electric-diesel hybrid – as well as solar panels and wind turbines for energy generation. There is even the option to add kite sails.
We’ll be taking a more compete look at Sunreef’s Eco line in a full length article.
Electric motor company expands facilities and funding
Saietta, a UK manufacturer of axial flux ‘pancake’ electric motors is expanding its facilities with a solar panelled factory and preparing for major international growth with a new round of funding. Their patent-protected, axial-flux motor tech is branded AFT (axial flux traction) and is modular in design, meaning high and low voltage e-motor solutions can be provided or everything from scooters to buses to boats.
The Saietta Group was formed when Agility Global and Agni Motors merged in 2015. The inventor of the pancake motor, Cedric Lynch, joined Agni in 2002 and has won numerous awards including the Guinness World Record for the world’s first manned electric helicopter, world speed record for the first e-powered aircraft, the Mansura Medal for outstanding contributions to hybrid development and the winning entry in the UK’s inaugural e-motorcycle race TT Zero.
Speaking about the growing demand for its products in all applications, Wicher Kist, Chief Executive Officer Saietta Group, said: “To have seen market demand increase so significantly means that a new round of funding will allow us to capitalize on the wave of vehicles that will be entering development soon.”
Saietta has appointed former Goldman Sachs Managing Director Emmanuel Clair as Non-Executive Chairman. Clair has been a prominent investor and Board Advisor at Saietta since 2017.
Mr Clair said “I have been watching the growth of e-mobility for the last five years, and my decision to accept the role at Saietta Group is a commitment to the company’s potential, which I think will be transformative to the entire mobility industry.”
Electric ships to replace fleet of transport trucks
For ASKO, Norway’s largest grocery distributor, the only way to move goods from its warehouses on the west side of the Oslo fjord to its distribution centre on the east side is by putting them on trucks and driving around the fjord.
They currently use about 800 trucks a day, but have commissioned two autonomous electric ferries to go across the fjord, cut out that road leg of the journey and save an estimated 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year. The two vessels will initially operate with small crews before moving to unmanned voyages.
“Fully electric trucks will take the cargo from the warehouses to the ferry landings, with the trailers being loaded on to the the battery-driven vessels in groups of 16 to be transported across the fjord.” said Kai Just Olsen of ASKO.
The operation and coordination of everything will be managed by Massterly, the world’s first company set up to operate autonomous vessels. It is jointly owned by the Wilhelmsen Group, which operates a 2,200 location maritime network, and logistics expert Kongsberg.
The ships have been designed by Norwegian marine engineer Naval Dynamics and will be constructed on the other side of the world at India’s state-owned Cochin Shipyard. Delivery is scheduled for early 2022.
Consumer boat powered by hydrogen fuel cells
Hungarian manufacturer Kontakt-Elektro debuted a 6.2 metre • 21 foot recreation boat powered by hydrogen fuel cells at the Lake Balaton Boat Show September 4.
The country’s National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform was formed in 2008 and the head of the organization, Istvan Lepsenyi, said “There are at least 200 boats powered by electric motors sailing on Lake Balaton, but the future belongs to hydrogen fuel cells because of their bigger capacities.”
There are fervent supporters of both hydrogen and battery powered transportation, so we won’t get involved that debate. What is intriguing and exciting about this development is hydrogen fuel cells being used on a boat this small. Weighing 950 kilograms, it has a maximum speed of 22 km/h and can carry 8 people for 3 hours and 66kms with longer range at slower speeds.
Electric yachts from China
VIVIC Corporation, which has offices in Taiwan, China and Las Vegas, announced that it “officially rolled out its all-electric boat and yacht products after years of research and development in partnership with Kha Shing Enterprise Co. the largest and most advanced yacht and boat building company in Taiwan.”
VIVIC has a range of divisions that provide products and services in the areas of luxury yacht sales and management/maintenance, marina development and now, electric yachts. Kha Shing has been building luxury yachts since 1975.
The press release for the launch of the electric yacht division says
VIVC’s R&D team has been developing all-electric ship technologies for several years and has finally reached the stage where our technologies are ready for the commercial production of all-electric boats and yachts.”
We believe that eventually all-electric boats and yachts will completely replace their gasoline or diesel-powered counterparts, especially in the rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. The demand for the less polluting ships in Taiwan, China, South East Asia, and Europe are particularly high as there are millions of gasoline or diesel-powered ships in use in these regions that have caused severe pollution to their waters.