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Old 16-09-2018, 10:29   #1
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Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

Yesterday Paul from Distant Shores posted a new video on YouTube, Sailboat Generator Replacement showing an innovative power generation system installed on their new Southerly 480.

Apparently this is a new system under development by Triskel Marine and to some extent with Nigel Calder, who is briefly shown in the video. Paul also stated it is to be unveiled at the Southampton Boat Show tomorrow.

Annoyingly, he doesn't explain many details of the system, other than saying it provides 7KW of AC power off a smallish belt-driven alternator and a large battery bank. Apparently Triskel has developed a management system that regulates the alternator not only on battery voltage, but also on how the engine is loaded - not sure how it does this. On their website they also mention a controllable variable pitch propeller - I don't know if DSIII has this fitted or not.

To provide 7KW continuous I'd suspect two inverters would be required, but these are not shown. The batteries appear to be Odyssey PC1800-FT AGM. Paul says it's a "10KW" bank, not sure what he means by that..

On a side note, not impressed with the terrible access to engine and electrics on that Southerly!
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Old 16-09-2018, 11:07   #2
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

Yes saw this and did wonder what the batteries are. The comments on the video suggest LiFePo4 but this could be folks just guessing. There is a shot showing two Victrons on a large board. Also someone commented that it is a generator rather than an alternator. I am not sure what the difference is.

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Old 16-09-2018, 11:14   #3
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

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To provide 7KW continuous I'd suspect two inverters would be required, but these are not shown. The batteries appear to be Odyssey PC1800-FT AGM. Paul says it's a "10KW" bank, not sure what he means by that..
I'm guessing he meant a 10 Kilowatt hour bank. I'm guessing the bank is not 12V and once you start talking different voltages its just easier to talk in watt hours (or kilowatt hours). With watt hours, you can easily compare 2 (or more) banks regardless of the voltage the bank runs at.

For reference, a 10KWh bank would be about 780Ah at 12.8V.
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Old 16-09-2018, 11:16   #4
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

I'm pretty sure they're marketing it as a generator since that's what it is intended to replace - but since they engine would be running at variable speeds , there's little doubt that it is indeed a rectified alternator/battery/inverter system - with the "innovative" part being the monitoring/control system.

Hopefully we'll see some real technical details soon!
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Old 16-09-2018, 11:47   #5
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

Okay, so looking at the video some more, I think the alternator isn't internally rectified - it looks like there are indeed three red cables coming off of it - three phase poles - going to the external black box mounted on the board next to Nigel. That box must then rectify and charge the batteries - not sure if it's got an AC output or not... kinda doubt it, due to size...

I think the two Victron boxes are DC/DC converters. I agree the bank voltage is likely 24 or 48 V.
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Old 17-09-2018, 03:17   #6
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

What I am slightly confused about is how he is able to get 7kw of power out of what looks like quite a small alternator / generator.

Certainly an interesting option instead on a separate generator. I think there is a bit of marketing hype about saving fuel etc but not having to install a separate generator could be a plus.

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Old 17-09-2018, 05:57   #7
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

It appears to just be a big alternator on your main engine, but operating at 48V rather than 12 or 24. That's how they get the higher power. That charges a 48V 10kwh LA battery bank, adn supplies power to the boat through 3kw of DC to DC converters to 12V or 24V as needed for your boat.


The presumed advantage is that it pushes your engine operation into a zone with improved bsfc (brake specific fuel consumption, or grams of fuel per kw, per hour. OK, but any old large alternator will do the same thing. But maybe a slight advantage here.



You definitely get some efficiency advantage running the alternator at 48V vs 12V or 24V, but it's still significantly less efficient than a genset running at 230V. In total, probably NOT better than a genset for efficiency in the generator windings etc.


And it's fine for generating power when underway with engine, but isn't the point of a sail boat to sail? And what if you are at anchor for several days or a week? Now you are running the main engine only to generate power, and probably operating the engine at a less efficient point than a gen set.


I'll bet in total that for every gain you get in one form of operation, there is an equal loss in another form of operation.
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Old 17-09-2018, 05:59   #8
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

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What I am slightly confused about is how he is able to get 7kw of power out of what looks like quite a small alternator / generator.

Certainly an interesting option instead on a separate generator. I think there is a bit of marketing hype about saving fuel etc but not having to install a separate generator could be a plus.

Pete

By running it at 48V. It's about 145A.
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Old 17-09-2018, 06:25   #9
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

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It appears to just be a big alternator on your main engine, but operating at 48V rather than 12 or 24. That's how they get the higher power. That charges a 48V 10kwh LA battery bank, adn supplies power to the boat through 3kw of DC to DC converters to 12V or 24V as needed for your boat.


The presumed advantage is that it pushes your engine operation into a zone with improved bsfc (brake specific fuel consumption, or grams of fuel per kw, per hour. OK, but any old large alternator will do the same thing. But maybe a slight advantage here.



You definitely get some efficiency advantage running the alternator at 48V vs 12V or 24V, but it's still significantly less efficient than a genset running at 230V. In total, probably NOT better than a genset for efficiency in the generator windings etc.


And it's fine for generating power when underway with engine, but isn't the point of a sail boat to sail? And what if you are at anchor for several days or a week? Now you are running the main engine only to generate power, and probably operating the engine at a less efficient point than a gen set.

I'll bet in total that for every gain you get in one form of operation, there is an equal loss in another form of operation.

I don't think +/- a few percent efficiency is at all material, and not at all the point of such a system. What makes the difference is that you are generating power almost for free when you're using the main for propulsion, plus you are doing away with the second diesel engine for a huge reduction in cost and complexity.



I have a low speed heavy duty generator I used a lot this summer (4000 miles Cowes-Greenland-Cowes), but although we had terrific sailing winds most of the time, I also put a few hundred hours on the main engine, and generated a significant part of our power using the heavy duty second alternator on the main.



I like this idea very much.


This idea would work much better if the alternator could be regulated to adjust the alternator output down to not overload the main when it's being used for propulsion, or crank the output way up when the main is being used just for power generation.






Edit: When I say "almost for free", I'm talking about this:


To generate a given amount of electrical power using a diesel engine, your cost per hour of run time has three or four components:


1. Hourly cost of amortization of the equipment
2. Hourly cost of maintenance of the equipment
3. Fuel cost -- overhead
4. Fuel cost -- marginal


Fuel cost -- overhead is the fuel it takes to make the engine run with no load. On my generator it's about 0.7 l/h, so not insignificant at all.


If you generate power off the main engine whilst using the main for propulsion, your cost for 1,2 and 3 for power generation is zero -- goose eggs. Because you're spending that already for propulsion. So your only cost is 4, which may be not even noticeable.


This is powerful.
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Old 17-09-2018, 09:24   #10
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Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

Donít forget though that if you pull that kind of power out of the average sailboat motor, you will have to reduce the prop load, or you will be seriously overload the motor, or be pitched so that your seriously underloaded without pulling the power out.
Taken to its logical conclusion that is at the design phase, to maintain the same available power if needed, your going to need a larger propulsion engine, and the very significant cost in money and complexity of a variable pitch prop, and you now only have one source of significant electrical power.

Your advantages seem to dry up and you lose redundancy and gain significant complexity and additional single failure points.

I heard a term when designing aircraft and systems, we called it creeping elegance. Then eventually, hopefully you begin to realize why itís not done, and you stay with KISS, or as I used to say, if itís simple and works, itís not stupid.

I had to fight an Engineer who was designing a complete, redundant, separate emergency power system for a crop duster, all because he had incorrectly labeled an electric fuel pump the ďEmergencyĒ fuel pump, when in fact it was just a back up pump.
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Old 17-09-2018, 09:58   #11
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

This does appear to be more hype than fact. They are charging batteries with a high output alternator and then apparently creating A/C power via an inverter. The video confuses kilowatts and kilowatt hours which further confuses the viewer. As to the claim of using the engine more efficiently, that only applies when motoring.

It's a sailboat! He ignores using other alternative power sources such as wind, drag prop and solar. He does mention how impractical solar is for him because he does not have the real estate. IMO He is not trying hard enough with alt energy methods - he wants to hype his big alternator solution.
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Old 17-09-2018, 10:22   #12
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

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Don’t forget though that if you pull that kind of power out of the average sailboat motor, you will have to reduce the prop load, or you will be seriously overload the motor, or be pitched so that your seriously underloaded without pulling the power out.
Taken to its logical conclusion that is at the design phase, to maintain the same available power if needed, your going to need a larger propulsion engine, and the very significant cost in money and complexity of a variable pitch prop, and you now only have one source of significant electrical power.

Your advantages seem to dry up and you lose redundancy and gain significant complexity and additional single failure points.

I heard a term when designing aircraft and systems, we called it creeping elegance. Then eventually, hopefully you begin to realize why it’s not done, and you stay with KISS, or as I used to say, if it’s simple and works, it’s not stupid.

I had to fight an Engineer who was designing a complete, redundant, separate emergency power system for a crop duster, all because he had incorrectly labeled an electric fuel pump the “Emergency” fuel pump, when in fact it was just a back up pump.

It's a very appropriate warning, but something like this can actually be creeping in the opposite direction --


one whole less diesel engine (huge simplification right there)

no proprietary generator set


All you have to do is either keep the alternator size down so that its power requirement doesn't eat up the gap between propeller power curve and maximum output plus a margin.


Or, find a way to modulate the alternator output so you can regulate that issue that way.


I think this is simpler, not more complex, than a separate AC genset.


You do lose the redundancy, but is this something where you really need it? If you've lost the main engine, you've kind of got bigger problems, don't you?


On a catamaran, I would for sure go this way -- having THREE diesel engines on a weight-sensitive unballasted vessel is pure madness.
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Old 17-09-2018, 10:26   #13
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

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. . . It's a sailboat! He ignores using other alternative power sources such as wind, drag prop and solar. He does mention how impractical solar is for him because he does not have the real estate. IMO He is not trying hard enough with alt energy methods - he wants to hype his big alternator solution.

As some one who absolutely cannot fit solar anywhere, I have to disagree with this. There are absolutely many use cases where a significant amount of solar power is not possible.


And solar is the only "alternative power source" which is capable of generating significant amounts of power for a large cruising boat with lots of electrical gear on board. Wind and "drag prop" (I assume you mean a towed generator?) are very minor producers.
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Old 17-09-2018, 11:01   #14
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

So instead of running a generator you have to run the main engine? I do not see how this is much of an advantage
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Old 17-09-2018, 11:04   #15
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Re: Triskel power generation system on Distant Shores III

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So instead of running a generator you have to run the main engine? I do not see how this is much of an advantage

The advantage is that you can do a lot of charging when you're running the main engine anyway. Besides that, you don't have to buy and maintain and amortize a whole nother diesel engine. Those are pretty big advantages.
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