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Old 16-06-2009, 14:13   #1
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Electric Propulsion Systems Available

I feel there is a thread needed on available electric propulsion systems for all yachts.

The following makes are available and I am sure I have missed a few.

Solomon Technologies
Electric Drive Systems and Hybrid Drive Systems | Fischer Panda
BELLMANN Drive Technology - Mooier kunt u niet varen
http://www.electricmarinepropulsion.org/
Glacier Bay, Inc
Arka electronics Giethoorn, elektrisch varen, electric propulsion systems
torqeedo: Home
RE-E-POWER Electric Propulsion for Marine Applications

please feel free to add more company's

greetings

Gideon
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Old 16-06-2009, 16:23   #2
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I guess I will be able to use my Tugboat Experience now.

Now those were some BIG Diesel Electrics.

The one thing I can see for the recreational users is that there is a need for fastidious maintenance on diesel electrics. Marine environments and electricity.

I think that some think they are getting "sumthin fo nuthin"...that is hardly the case.
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Old 16-06-2009, 17:31   #3
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Chief, we had EMD's on the OSV's I used to run and one boat had a SCR system. I am beginning to think that for yachts the additional complexity and expense is not worth it. Especially when non-professionals are expected to correctly operate, maintain and repair these systems. Additionally, some things just work better on a larger scale. I don't think pleasure boats are large enough to utilize the economies of scale. Sure, it worked great for submarines, but they are much larger. That's just the overall impression I am getting reading both pro and con articles about diesel-electric "hybrid" systems.

Whats also not being discussed is that diesel-electric systems for pleasure vessels are being made for a very small sized market and the parts are almost all proprietary. This means that when it does come time to replace parts that they are going to be very expensive because of the small production runs and the lack of price competition. With larger diesel-electric boats, there was price competition for parts...mostly with remanufactured parts and other non-OEM sources.
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Old 16-06-2009, 19:10   #4
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Very well stated, my friend.

I think the breakthrough will come at the hands of a backyard tinkerer.

If I had the time...I would probably toy with it.

Actually, I am thinking of a compact generator with a 12 volt jumper cable ability
to recharge batteries for a trolling motor..or run the trolling motor if batteries are discharged.....that is about the smallest scale I can think of in a marine setting.
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Old 16-06-2009, 19:42   #5
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Quote:
I think the breakthrough will come at the hands of a backyard tinkerer.
No, the economies are far larger than that. This isn't some big break through no one saw. It really is through the trials of exacting science that this curve can go the other way. I see it as maybe only a little. If we needed magic there are far better sources.

On a totally energy basis oil to electric to propulsion loses every time. On an economical level as stated the scale comes more into play. Nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers still do it better. Oil is only concentrated solar power. Nuclear power is true solar power. The sad part is they waste it making steam.

Swimming horses was an attempt at propulsion. It didn't fail for desire even if the horses were not fully invested.
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Old 16-06-2009, 21:34   #6
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"Nuclear power is true solar power. The sad part is they waste it making steam."
Pray tell, Hud, how do you turn nuclear energy into propulsion without making steam?
Triple-expansion steam turbines are generally considered a mature and effective propulsion system.
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Old 16-06-2009, 21:58   #7
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"The Trials of Exacting Science"?

Sorry, but in this case, I think a sailor....standing watch and thinking......will come up with a better idea.

"Exacting Science" is non-existent today for the most part.

Biofuels, Electric Cars, Autonomous vehicles have come from bands of tinkerers.

"Exacting Science" has given us "Global Cooling, Ozone Holes amd Global Warming"
"Exacting Science" has given and continues to use doom and gloom tactics...like Y2K,
and the Bird Flu, Swine Flu.......
"Exacting Science" leans towards whomever is funding them.

(ranting light has been extingushed) ha-ha
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Old 16-06-2009, 22:54   #8
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Calder revealed his learnings with his new propulsion/charging system in last months sail magazine.

Hybrid and electric may be the future but the entire costs need to be accounted for. Calder frames the issues well (you can argue with his math) but he also indicates that there are externalities that need to be addressed as well.

Externalities are costs "outside" some arbitrary boundary. For example, disposal costs of lithium-ion batteries may not be considered in the cost of operating a boat but there is clearly a cost here.

I personally think it will be quite a while before electric or hybrid become a low cost efficient alternative to burning diesel fuel, adding wind power and solar power.

I do however believe continued exploration and experimentation with alternatives is vital to our future.
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Old 16-06-2009, 23:32   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"Nuclear power is true solar power. The sad part is they waste it making steam."

Pray tell, Hud, how do you turn nuclear energy into propulsion without making steam?
Pray tell, hellosailor, how do you turn Paul into Hud?

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Old 17-06-2009, 00:34   #10
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Diesel electris systems are not really made for a small market , think of the EV market and the really big player come into view. Maintenance cost or maintenance period will be a lot less since electric motors only have one moving part compared with a few hundred on a diesel, there is a lot to be said about both propulsion systems but less fossil fuel will win eventually. Cost is higher initially ( still ) but one of the positive side effects can well be that 10 years down the line it may be hard to sell a boat with diesel propulsion while hybrid or electric propulsion will be easy to sell and have a lot less depriciation.
The outcome might very well be that the electric driven boat costs a lot less in the long run.
A barrel of oil is now only $ 70,00 but 10 years down the line ??? 200 , 400 or maybe even more, I feel we should make every efford to conserve fossil fuels for better use like building boats , making plastic etc.

Gideon
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Old 17-06-2009, 02:30   #11
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Initial costs are high and the limiting factor is not the electric part or the diesel part. Currently I subscribe to the batteries being the limiting item.

Some of the costs per Kwh that Calder quoted were astonishing.

Then of course with the batteries is the weight issue.

I agree that we need to continue to find alternatives.

The solutoin to propelling ships is already discovered. Nuclear power.

Now we just need to start producing personal nuclear propulsions systems in the 40-150 hp range - LOL
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Old 17-06-2009, 07:53   #13
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Happy to see this thread started.
First off, as several now, I have purchased a 2004 Lagoon 410 Electric Cat. I'll be honest about my systems and experiences as well as my expectations because I need the experience and knowledge from those who are smarter than I am. With that said I tend to get more than one opinion and those opinions are taken with a grain of salt. We are new to sailing and new to owning a boat. We are not Blue water sailors by any means and I'm not sure we ever will be but for at least the first few years will learn and enjoy our water front slip and the bay versus purchasing a second home close to the water, then expand our horizons. Day sailing and weekends exploring the Chesapeake is our plans then up and down the East Coast hopefully eventually to the islands. Our boat "Electra Glide" is beautiful and enjoyable these first few months and frustrating as well. The history on the boat is short, 2 previous owners, the first passing away after a year of ownership then sold to an owner who knew enough about electricity to upgrade a few things but not enough to do things the way I would have or what I think is important.

The good side.
1. The system does work. I can power out, sail and return with more electricity than I started with under most conditions without starting the generator. Running silently from the dock is just plan way to cool. People stop and look at us like we are doing something imposable until they ask. Then it's show time and happy hour turns into a show and tell.
2. Several systems have been updated and I believe state of the art at this time. I have a Brusa Battery charger on the main bank. This thing is programmable and does have overcharge protection. The 6kw Sensata inverter upgrade takes care of all my 120v needs vs the original 3kw unit.
3. The Solomons electric motors are fantastic. I've been talking to the rep and the drives are not even close to being used to their capabilities and limited by the current amps available. I can do 8 knots at 30a ea. motor. The motors are capable of 100a ea. and higher with the a new program. They are good to over 150,000 hours of use. What, 1 moving part??
4. When charging or running the generator for the drives I use under 1 gph.
5. The 12 Northstar batteries I have are still in great shape after 3 years.
6. I do 8 knots under power and in the bay have seen 12 knots under sail in 20+ knot winds. Weight of the batteries doesn't seem to be a big issue in my mind.

The bad side.
1. Several owners and several Marina Electricians have left the wiring a mess. At least to my standards. No wiring diagrams, wires not labeled or numbered, wires 50 ft long that could have been half that length, and wires not bundled per use or runs. Lagoon has some great factory installed conduits that were never used and added wire was run on the outside! Why I can't say but it all will be cleaned up. Some problems I have run into and corrected were directly do to multiple grounds run to a cheap plastic ground strip that was undersized and wires came loose. Several wires I still haven't traced down aren't even connected but other than a Simrad gage at the helm not working I haven't found out what they do. There are wires "abandoned" in place that need to be removed or labeled as spares.
2. The generator is undersized. I have a 16kw (around 90a) genset and really need a 22 to 25kw developing around 200a. This would give me enough juice to overcome an issue with running the motors at 10 knots, charge the batteries at a faster rate and have the amps to run extras.
3. The generator control systems are a huge issue. Since the system was designed by Solomons and assembled in Europe several subsystem parts and ideas were provided by European companies. One of the biggest mistakes and admitted to by the designer (more on that later) was the HFL Generator set and it's controls. HFL doesn't support the Genset anymore, admits it cobbled the unit together and to make things worse, no one works for them any longer that knows anything about the setup. To top it off HFL subbed out a controller system called LOGO! Elfa which was owned by GE, sold to Siemens Europe, integrated into their building automated systems division, and no one at Siemens as ever heard of it. I went to a local Siemens office and had to bring up the web site just to prove that they owned the system. 0 support until I find a European office. The system is now used to automate building lights, pumps, and relays. On EG it controls an auxiliary booster fuel pump and a keeps an overload breaker from tripping so when the generator wants to trip it trips a button at the helm so you don't need to go crawling under the seating area to reset it. Way to complicated for what it does and high on the priority list to replace. By the way I think those are the only 2 things it does. I can't get into the program to see what else it does because no one has the program! With a larger generator this isn't an issue or needed. The generator is also manually brought on line and manually shut down which requires monitoring the system by the Crew. The Crew wants to sail not monitor gages all the time your out.
4. Information systems. This is something I knew about right from the start and didn't think it would be such an issue but have found out that what I want and what is out there may be a problem. This also is where I'm limited by my electrical knowledge and trying to educate myself as to what is the best way to monitor the 12 AGM batteries plus 3 additional batteries I have. Knowledge is power! In this case it's the difference in batteries lasting for a respectable long life. Knowing what to monitor and the parameters to accomplish this is not straight forward on a 144v system.
5. Support!!!! It's not there from part of the manufacturers of my system. Solomons has been great but if it was changed from the original design or a sub system like the Genset they have no knowledge of it. They still are helping me with there support staff and for that I am most grateful. HFL is responding and the generator is a well built unit utilizing a Kabota 4 banger which by the way is basically the same motor used today by Panda on their 22kw genset but the controller by Siemens is a joke and needs to go. The 2 amp gages at the helm need to be LCD rather than LED's for size and brightness (I shouldn't have to get within 6" to read them) and the Link-10 is way over rated for what is is proclaimed to do. I need clear precise information and automated controls to go sailing and not be concerned whether my batteries are under or over charged. I am watching another thread closely talking about Battery Monitoring here.
I've tried to read anything and everything about Electric Systems and what or how others are doing things. I bought EG because I felt it's the way of the future. Personally I don't think this is the type of system at this time for Blue Water, long distance sailing do to the complexity and especially support in 2nd, 3rd, or for that matter 1st world countries at this time. BUT! It's not going to be long before the technology and the batteries will be available. I'm banking on 2 years until my existing batteries will be half the weight, twice the Ah, and last longer. Maybe my heads in the clouds but I can sail today (in my own little part of the world) enjoying the sport and the view, knowing I'm not a slave to the gas pump. Yes the systems on my boat are VERY expensive today but I got them already at what I think is a good price so... I don't think it would be practical to buy the pieces. Gideon, I agree with your cost bases "10 years down the line". Hopefully we're both right on that one.

3 weeks ago Nigel Calder, Dave Tether, and the motor manufacture were on my boat to review the systems and changes. Nigel is now working with Tether at his company Emotion (Gideon you may want to add him to your list) to develop Electric drive systems. It was a pleasure and an honor to have these guys on board as well as educational. I just wish I could have had them longer to really pick their brains but I laid out my concerns and issues to which they acknowledged several that where an industry problem but not insurmountable. The time line seemed about right. I may have bought a boat that was ahead of it's time but the changes made so far are good ones. The issues to be fixed are fixable or will be soon.

To the best of my knowledge this is the most complete rambling of an Electric boat's systems posted by anyone. If anyone has knowledge of another "honest" post I would love to know about it. I hope this didn't stray of topic to far.

Steve in Solomons MD
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Old 17-06-2009, 14:38   #14
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Hallo Steve
Yes I knew I had missed Dave Tether but I just could not think of his company,s name.
He does a great job in electrifying sailing yachts and he is also the reason for me to develop the Green Motion system, I have installed a Solomon system in the past and it is a good system . The generators from HFL are a disaster , having installed 8 of these and constantly problems in one way or another I gave up in using them , later switched to Fisher Panda, much better and reliable. Recently I got in contact with a American Swedish company called Polar Power DC specialized in DC generators, they have developed for me a range of generators starting with 8 KW up to 30 KW in the high voltages needed for both the Solomon, Green Motion and Dave Tethers Emotion systems.
We are installing the 16 and the 22 KW version in our 445 FastCat and 2 x the 28 KW in the 60 Ft The efficiency on these generators is high , around 80 % the weight is the lowest available and we have put them on a diet in our factory have chaged the sound capsule to aluminum, and chaged a few more things and now the weight is even lower , only 201 kilo or 442 lbs complete. These generators are Canbus controlleed and are auto start and stop. Victron make a good LCD amp gauge that can be used with a downscaler
so you can read out amps , volts , rate of charge or discharge , the unit is called BMV 602.
If you need any other help that I might be able to provide let me know

Greetings

Gideon

p.s. Thanks Henry for the update I knew i had missed some.
Asmo marine makes a good system that I know of, the others I do not know.
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Old 18-06-2009, 07:07   #15
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Steve - Great post. Thanks for the informative, interesting and well balanced read. Well done!
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