Technological advances offer new levels of electric power
With a growing spotlight on the environment, and the rapidly changing world of technology, electric power and propulsion are not taken as lightly as they once were in the marine industry.
Through the constant push on technology’s limits, electric motors are no longer simply small motors only capable of reaching unflattering speeds of 5 to 7 mph. While a large variety of electric motors on the market are still low-speed, many manufacturers are taking new technologies and pushing for higher speeds and longer range.
Last fall, Hinckley Yachts released the Dasher, powered by twin Torqeedo 80 horsepower electric motors, capable of reaching top speeds of 18-27 mph.
The Dasher uses two 40 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion batteries from BMW i3, which give the boat a 40-mile range when driven at its 10 mph cruising speed. The Dasher also gains a full charge in just under four hours with the use of the dual 50-amp charging.
Torqeedo CEO Dr. Christoph Ballin said that energy storage technology is the largest limiting factor at this stage in the electric boating market.
“But batteries are getting better every year,” Ballin said. “This is being driven by the automotive industry, which is leading the way in battery technology.”
However, the Dasher doesn’t stop pushing limits at its speed, batteries and range.
Scott Bryant, Hinckley’s director of new product planning said that this is the lightest Hinckley ever created.
Designed by Michael Peters, the Dasher uses a lightweight composite “Artisanal Teak” instead of real teak gunnels. Though the new interior still looks real, the use of the composite took over 2,000 pounds out of the boat, and therefore increasing the boat’s top speed capabilities.
Also during the fall of last year, German engine manufacturer Deutz AG acquired Torqeedo.
“The acquitsition of Torqeedo enables us to launch technically sophisticated, financially viable electrifications solutions on the market more quickly,” said Deutz AG Chairman of the Board of Management, Dr. Frank Hiller, after the acquisition was announced. “We are establishing our competitive position early on and believe that there will be very good market opportunities for us.”
“Being a part of the Deutz Group will create additional opportunities for Torqeedo in the areas of industrialization, purchasing, sales and service. We aim to make use of these opportunities and further accelerate our growth,” Ballin said at the time of the acquisition.
Ballin later said that through acquiring Torqeedo, Deutz AG wanted the “know-how” of Torqeedo in order to accelerate the development of electric and hybrid products for their core off-highway business.
He said that Torqeedo will remain operating as a separate entity within the Deutz AG company, and that the management team will remain in place at Torqeedo.
Ballin and his team at Torqeedo have continued to advance sustainable boating with a variety of new products and integrations for 2018.
“Offering sustainable products that deliver a superior value over conventional combustion engines has always been Torqeedo’s core. We continue this tradition in 2018,” Torqeedo CEO Christoph Ballin said on the occasion of the first presentation of the product innovations at METS Amsterdam 2017.
Most recently, Torqeedo announced strategic agreements to integrate Sentinel Boat Monitors and WhisperPower smart power generation systems into its electric boat propulsion product offerings.
The Sentinel app allows remote monitoring of the vessel’s location and onboard systems, and provides automatic alerts of any malfunctions and alarms. If the boat strays from its location, either through a failed mooring or theft, the automatic geofencing and GPS tracking function ensures quick location and recovery.
When integrated with the Torqeedo system, the boat’s electric motor and battery data are clearly displayed in the app, including state of charge, voltage, temperature and remaining range.
For commercial or rental operators, the Sentinel Boat Monitor system, integrated with Torqeedo’s electric propulsion system, offers tracking and monitoring of the full fleet or individual boats via a convenient mobile or web app. It monitors the number of guests, remaining range, state of charge and distance from homeport for each boat and sends notification of the vessel’s arrival.
“Cities worldwide are looking to electric-powered water taxis, ferries and excursion boats to clean up their air and waterways,” Ballin said. “Integrating Torqeedo systems with full-featured remote fleet management solutions like Sentinel will be crucial to the further development of this market.”
Torqeedo also announced a new 25kW range extender developed in cooperation with WhisperPower for its Deep Blue hybrid systems.
The WhisperPower 350V DC converter generator uses a Mitsubishi S4Q2 four-cylinder diesel engine with crankshaft starting. Its variable frequency operation eliminates the fixed ratio between power, voltage output and rotational speed and produces all required combinations of power and voltage on demand.
The system’s sophisticated power electronics allow the engine to run at its most efficient operating point, minimizing fuel consumption, noise, vibration and exhaust. It consumes only 295 grams (.08 gallons) of fuel per kilowatt-hour and generates just 54 db(A) of noise at seven meters distance.
Ballin explained that when integrated into the Deep Blue Hybrid systems, the range extender is part of an advanced feature set which offers unparalleled levels of convenience, luxury and autonomy for larger cruising boats.
The Deep Blue system harvests renewable energy from solar panels and hydrogeneration to charge the high-capacity BMWi batteries, providing silent power for the Torqeedo electric motors plus house loads such as air conditioning from sustainable sources.
When longer-range motoring is required, the generator is controlled automatically by the Torqeedo Advanced Hybrid Control System for worry-free backup, Ballin added.
“As electric propulsion systems become more powerful, a backup or auxiliary power system is becoming more and more relevant. Our smart power generation systems and Torqeedo’s industry-leading electric propulsion systems are a perfect match,” said Roel ter Heide, founder and CEO of WhisperPower.
Another titan on the electric market pushing the electric motors top speed is Canadian Electric Boat Company’s Bruce line.
With room for 5-8 passengers, the Bruce Hatchback Classic and Open Utility gives boaters the chance to practice various water sports, with the addition of all the benefits of a 100 percent electric boat.
The 22-foot fiberglass hull features a 100 kilowatt-hour water-cooled motor from Piktronik, and offers boaters top speeds of up to 41 mph, and a cruising speed of 20 mph.
The Canadian Electric Boat Company also recently released the Bruce 22 T, which features a Torqeedo 4.0 saltwater series, coupled with a 48 V battery bank. Despite it’s lower top speed of 7 mph, the Bruce 22 T offers up to 10 hours of cruising on one charge.
With new limits constantly being set, pushed, and broken in the electric market, comes continued growth as well.
Ballin said that Torqeedo currently has over 70,000 electric propulsion systems in service worldwide. He said that Torqeedo’s business grew by 40 percent last year, with no expectations of any slowdown.
With a hand in a wide variety of boating segments from tenders to sailboats, to powerboats and more, the electric propulsion market is one that is here to stay, and continue to make a name for itself.