The DeepSpeed electric hydrojet motor first burst on the scene at last year’s Genoa Boat Show after years of development led by entrepreneur William Gobbo and a team headed by fluid dynamics expert Professor Ernesto Benini of the University of Padua.
In February the company released a video showing an early prototype operating in a test tank and has now released a video demonstrating the motor in a sea trial, using a test hull from their DeepLab facility.
Electric hydrojet in development for 13 years
This is the latest advance in bringing to reality the concept Sr. Gobbo had back in 2007. The price of replacing a V8 fossil fuel motor in his boat got him thinking about why boat motors kept relying on propellers and that maybe something based on an airplane’s jet engine might be a better solution.
The test was done in early March, just before the coronavirus lockdown in Italy. The goal of the test, beyond the performance of the motor itself, was to verify the abilities of the data collection systems, steering and security layer system.
The motor tested was the DeepSpeed 120e model, running at half power. Gobbo said “Even with that, we got the 340kg boat (750 lbs) up to twenty knots in about 4 seconds. However, numbers aside, these are not the performance that we expect from our jets as the engine’s potential is much higher.”
Lab working on next generation DeepSpeed
He acknowledged that the potential for discovering problems increases when these first motors are run at higher speeds, but also says it is part of the normal development process. It’s why tests are done. In any event, the engines being tested now were actually designed in 2018 and assembled in 2019, so are already somewhat outdated.
“We are already planning a new generation of significantly more advanced jets” said Gobbo, “which will represent a clear leap forward in all directions, both in terms of performance, but above all in terms of reliability.”
Three hull manufacturers on board
This new series will bring together everything the team has learned since 2017, when Prof. Benini came on board. The plan is to have them available to be broadly tested on regular production demonstration hulls in early 2021.
DeepSpeed says agreements are in place with “three important and well-known manufacturers” and the lab is currently working on a second test hull with results to be presented at the next Genoa Boat Show, currently scheduled for October 1 to 6.
Presumably one of those manufacturers is Scanner Marine. In late April the companies announced that they were working together to have the electric hydrojet on the Envy 710 RIB.
Hydrojet motors for boats have been around since they were first developed by Bill Hamilton in the 1950s, and there have been lots of developments and advances over the years. Australia’s Doen Waterjets are working on an electric/diesel hybrid version, and the world famous Shotover Jet canyon river ride has received a grant from the New Zealand government to convert a jet motor on one of its boats from fossil fuel V8 to electric.
Electric hydrojet big difference is being outboard
The big difference with the DeepSpeed electric hydrojet is that it is used as an outboard, whereas all others, electric or not, are positioned within the hull of the boat. This difference is what excited Professor Benini when Gobbo first showed him his idea.
The entrepreneur says ““When I entered Professor Benini’s office I found a professor of fluid dynamics with courteous and reserved ways. When I left, I saw a boy full of enthusiasm”
With jets inside the hull the flow is static, determined by the motor only, but with an outboard jet the water flowing through the jet as it moves through the water creates a dynamic flow: it increase with speed. In essence the faster the boat goes…the greater the flow…the faster the boat goes – and with increasing efficiency. The efficiency of a propeller actually falls off at higher boat speeds, whereas the efficiency of a hydrojet increases.
All of the elements seem to be in place for DeepSpeed to move on to the next phase of its evolution, including financing. The company has been supported from the beginning by Italian and European innovation funds, and is increasingly attracting the attention of corporate and other investors.
We look forward to October to see the results of its new lab work and sea trials.