Electrons #5: more arcs, sparks and electric boat news

Plugboats ELECTRONS is an occasional collection of electric boat news and electric boating items that we have written about before and are updating, or items are going to write about but are waiting for more information / developments – or items that are just tidbits you might find interesting.

So without further ado, here is ELECTRONS 4, with electric boat and boating news about:

  • a Gussies nominated 3D printed boat – 3DAak
  • a battery technology with 3D electrodes – Addionics
  • a 70 year old Swiss tourist boat converted to electric hybrid
  • a 1,300 passenger Chinese cruise boat with a 7.5 MEGAwatt hour battery system
  • a new buoy that can charge batteries offshore
  • Approval in Principal for the Genevos hydrogen power module

3D-printed boat ‘hot off the press’ and in the water

3DAak 3d printed boat being steered through Haarlem canalThe D3Aak, a finalist in the Gussies Electric Boat Awards (In Development Under 8m) has taken an important step along that development route with a prototype now out on the water in Haarlem, the Netherlands, seen here piloted by inventor Léon Wokke. An excited Wokke says that the maiden voyage is “A dream come true. The concept I’ve been working on for the past five years has finally been realized!

The boat was ‘constructed’ by HB3D Robot Printing through a process they call ‘5D printing’.  HB3D explains on their site: “For this project we applied 5D morphing – the use of slicing by curved surfaces. This option was necessary to be able to print the difference in height between the front and side of the boat without discontinuous edges.”

In keeping with the environmental awareness of electric propulsion, the full dream of Leon is to have the 3DAak printed not with ordinary filament but with recycled plastic which would ideally be retrieved from the ocean and other waters.

The King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, has Wokke given royal permission for use of the name De Groene D3Aak – The Green 3D Barge  in English – referencing the famed sailing ship De Groene Dreack (The Green Dragon) owned by his mother Princess Beatrix.


Battery company gets $27M for Smart 3D Electrodes

diagram of 3D batteryNow to a different application/definition of 3D. Addionics is an Israeli battery company that is redesigning battery architecture through Smart 3D Electrodes – a 3D metal fabrication method that improves the energy density, cost and performance of batteries, regardless of the chemistry. They’ve raised $27 million in a Series A funding round led by Israeli tech investment firm Deep Insight.

One of the investors is Dr. David Deak, who led supply chain projects and battery engineering programs on Tesla’s Gigafactory team and will also be joining the Addionics board.

What’s a 3D battery? To be very simplistic, batteries now are basically sandwiches with the ‘bread’ being copper foil on one side and aluminum foil on the other with the anode, cathode and electrolyte being the ‘filling’ layered between them. 3D batteries bring height into the equation. Rather than layering flat sheets one on top of another, 3D batteries interlock like Lego pieces.

You can read an excellent explanation on engineering.com. What a 3D structure means is that the amount of material in the anodes and cathodes can be increased without increasing the distance between them.  Less distance means more power density – meaning more speed or ability to move heavy things – and more material means more energy density, which translates to range.

The Addionics ‘secret sauce’ isn’t a pure 3D battery, but a type of mesh or foam that can be applied to the copper and aluminum foils to provide the benefits of 3D architecture. 

Addionics is “collaborating with leading automotive OEMs and suppliers in the U.S. and Europe” to integrate 3D Smart Electrodes with lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NMC), lithium iron phosphate (LFP), silicon, lithium polymer battery chemistries and solid state batteries (SSB).

What you need to know: Plugboats Guide to Electric Boat batteries 


Flagship Swiss tourist boat converts to hybrid

Hybrid ferry on Swiss lake with mountains in the background The 700 passenger tourist boat MS Jungfrau, built in 1954, has been completely modernized and converted to hybrid electric and diesel propulsion.  A lithium-ion battery system provides 30 minutes of 100% electric propulsion and up to 10.5 hours in hybrid operation. Onshore charging time is less than 90 minutes and the system, from LeClanché, also enables recharging while the boat is sailing.

The Jungfrau is the flagship of the BLS tourist fleet and takes visitors on a well-known cruise on Lac Brienze between Interlaken-East and the town of Brienz. Claude Merlach, Director of BLS, said: “We are delighted that we will now be able to glide silently across the lake for 30 minutes, allowing our passengers to experience the lake and the Alpine panorama in an even more serene and relaxed manner.”

LeClanché, a Swiss company, is also working with Siemens on two all-electric 700 passenger ships on Lake Geneva that will carry passengers between Switzerland and France, replacing existing diesel-powered vessels. All of these initiatives mean environmental benefits for the lakes and surrounding areas and contribute to the goals of the Swiss government’s Energy Strategy 2050. With the Jungfrau alone, BLS estimates a reduction of 12,000 litres of diesel and CO2 tons carbon – equivalent to the emission of 15 cars per year.


World’s largest pure electric cruise ship has 7.5mWh battery pack

electric boat news - Large electric cruise ship on Yangtze RiverThe Three Gorges 1, an all-electric cruise ship on the Yangtze River, was launched in trial mode during the summer of 2021 and has now completed and passed all of its tests. Touted as the world’s largest pure electric cruise ship, she is 100 metres long (328 feet) with a 16.5m beam (53 feet) and has accommodations for 300 passengers with a range of lounges, food halls and cabins.

The Three Gorges 1 has a massive 7.5 megawatt hour – that’s 7,500 kiloWatt hours – marine battery from Chinese company CATL, the world’s largest battery manufacturer. That energy storage is equivalent to the total battery capacity of more than 100 electric vehicles (CATL clients include Tesla, Mercedes and BMW) and means the ship can operate for more than 100 km / 60 mi on one charge.

Read: World’s largest electric ferry makes maiden voyage

The electric power will come from the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest power station, which can generate 22,500 MegaWatts from 32 main turbines. (Wikipedia). The ship will operate in the cruise market on the Yangtze in the region around the dam with a plan to start commercial trips in April 2022.


Maersk, Ørsted testing offshore charging buoy

offshore charging buoy with wires leading to ship in background (artists impression)The world’s best known shipping container company has partnered with the world leader in offshore wind generation on a buoy system that will charge battery and hybrid vessels using electricity from the wind turbines. The first use will be for wind farm service vessels but the long term goal is to use them for boats and ships of all sizes and have a significant impact on the use of diesel fuel.

There are a number of companies that are currently manufacturing or are developing electric and hybrid versions of the vessels that service offshore wind installations and take the crews back and forth to shore. This buoy seems to be a ‘no-brainer’ solution for charging them when they are at the farms.

The bigger application, though is potentially for large ships. There is a big international push to stop using the dirty high sulphur fuel used in ocean transport and to reduce emissions every way possible.

While these ships obviously require huge engines, one of the easier ways to cut diesel combustion is by providing an alternate to the generators used for the ‘hotel load’ of the ship – things like lighting, air-conditioning, fuel pumps and auxiliary operations.

To assist in this – and reduce air pollution in the cities where they operate – large ports are installing facilities for ships to hook up to onshore power when in harbour.  These new buoys could allow the large cargo ships to shut off their generators and operate on green electricity out in the open offshore waters while waiting for docking and unloading spaces.

The buoys are being installed and managed by Stillstrom (‘quiet power’ in Danish), a subsidiary of Maersk Supply Service, with the first units charging the Service Operation Vessels (SOVs) and Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) at Ørsted  wind farms in the North Sea.

Ørsted intends to make any intellectual property generated in designing the integration of the buoy into the offshore wind asset publicly available to maximise the uptake potential of this carbon reduction innovation across the offshore wind sector.


Hydrogen power module receives Lloyd’s approval

photo of hydrogen power module control faceIn other efforts to decarbonize shipping, the Genevos Hydrogen Power Module (HPM) has been granted Approval in Principle (AiP) by Lloyd’s Register (LR). This means that the units have been tested for ocean going ships, yachts, and special service craft and meet standards like the International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or Other Low-Flashpoint Fuels.

Read: World’s 1st green hydrogen racing yacht aiming for Vendee Globe 2024

Phil Sharp, the CTO of Genevos, is incorporating the hydrogen power modules into a 2024 Vendée Globe sailing race yacht, but this Lloyd’s approval opens up opportunities in almost any kind of marine application. In 2021 Genevos was selected as fuel cell provider under the HIMET (Hydrogen in an Integrated Maritime Energy Transition) project and  Sharp says “the Lloyd’s AiP marks a significant milestone and we are proud to be a first-mover in developing green hydrogen technologies, which are vital in the marine sector’s journey towards net-zero.”


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