Hybrid Ships…R/V Prius?

The Blue Economy has started a list of hybrid sea going vessels. With with research institutes and industry starting to feel the crunch there seems to at least something other than apathy for the issue. The list is below the fold.

  1. 435elektrical_waterlinefull.jpg
    The African Cats hybrid Fast Cat 435 Vector K: The vessel combines a lithium-ion battery or an absorbed lead-acid glass mat battery with newly designed lightweight brushless electric motors that recharge while sailing. The version weighs less and sails faster mainly due to the lack of diesel engine. LEDs replace all external and internal lighting. The best part is that the electric version is the same price as the diesel.
  2. 124-Lagoon420.jpg
    Lagoon 420: This ship is the first production hybrid. This differs from the Fast Cat in that an electric motor and diesel motor are married. However, Cruising World noted “Sailing performance was undoubtedly slowed by the 19-inch-diameter propellers on our test boat. Designed to turn freely when sailing, the props are big so they can regenerate electricity, starting at about 4.5 knots. It took us 10 knots of wind to reach that speed, even with the reacher set, but once it overcame that threshold, the boat became more responsive, reaching at 7 knots when the wind spiked to 12.”
  3. Alt_06.jpgAquabus 60: This bad boy comes in both biodiesel and solar. It appears the platform is amenable for either ferrying or houseboats. “The 8.5-metre (28 feet) Aquabus features a four-bunk cabin, kitchenette and a small bathroom. The cabin’s roof is covered with solar panels supplying the batteries with renewable electricity. The houseboat’s price ranges between US $65,000 to US$110,000. ”
  4. NOAA Great Lake’s Vessels: All the ships on the lakes are moving to biodiesel and now smell like fries and fried pies.
  5. Scout Hybrid 145: Although still packing a fuel hogging 20hp Yamaha, the boat flanks that with Lenco dual 36-volt drives. No mention on the speak the dual Lencos can generate.
  6. model-hybrid.jpgCraigcat: Well it is obvious that I need one of these for name alone. More a personal watercraft than a boat. But it will run for 8 hours on less than a gallon of gas. Priced at around $6,000 it is actually affordable.
  7. hybridboat.jpgFrauscher Hybrid: Although luxurious “the 18 foot St Tropez model from Austrian manufacturer Frauscher runs a cool $150,000, and can only manage 5 knots under electric power, but that increases to 38 when you switch over to the Diesel engine.”
  8. SS_250_3D_TN.gifSolar Sailor: They got both ‘hybrid marine power’ (HMP) and ‘solar wing’ technology’ adaptable to any ship. I am sucker for the design concept.
  9. Hybrid Canal Boat
  10. Or you could turn that broken-down, fossil-fuel burning, piece of junk into a majestic kite-powered vessel.
Dr. M (1618 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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6 comments on “Hybrid Ships…R/V Prius?
  1. Yeah, these thoughts are all well and good, but it’s not pleasure boats that we (at least as scientists) need to be concerned about — I’m far more concerned with (a) traditional research vessels, and (b) for us applied folks, cooperative research boats that otherwise are commercial fishing vessels.

    Regarding (a), a prior post on July 23rd here noted to my snarky response that NOAA and others should be moving towards biodiesel for research vessels — presumably because of their advanced designs? — that “[e]xpensive marine diesel fuel is going to be a fixture for all vessel operators, so get used to it.” (Tom) As for (b), some commercial fisheries guys have reportedly experimented with biodiesel, but can’t get either the constant supply when they need it or don’t have the funds to modify their vessels for the needed pre-ignition fuel-warming systems. (Disclaimer: I’m reporting what I’ve heard — it evidently works okay for low-speed stuff like longlining, but not trawling, but then again, I’m no expert in this fuel technology.) Needless to say, I don’t think that this is a short-term solution to my own research/cooperative fishers’ needs either. In other words, I think that no-one’s going to trawl or go longlining off of sailing vessels unless Kevin Costner is plying the waves in a post-apocalyptic WaterWorld.

    I like — and even applaud — the initiative in the private sector for their own vessels, and I really (really!) hate to be negative, but unless they also provide the same technology for the boats that provide their guests’ seared ahi, then count me among the skeptics for this to provide an answer to our problems.

  2. Dave,
    You are absolutely right. Currently, I know of only three strategies that would work on larger research or commercial ships. 1.) Biodiesel, which is fraught with all the problems you mentioned 2.) Solar Sailor which looks to be still at the concept phase and would only with newly constructed vessels (i.e. no retrofits), or 3.) Kite power which may be the most feasible, allows for retrofits, and is actually in trials as we speak. Unfortunately, none of these leave us with quick or feasible choice.

  3. I hear the japanese are working on research vessels that are powered on whale blubber and oil. Just the word on the street, ya know…

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