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Old 05-06-2013, 01:08 PM   #21
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....wonder what insurance companies think about large banks of owner installed lithium ion batteries on boats..
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:03 PM   #22
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....wonder what insurance companies think about large banks of owner installed lithium ion batteries on boats..
They are not lithium ion but rather LiFePO4 chemistry, a big difference as to safety. Here is a 2800 post thread just on these cells for housebanks aboard your boat and that insurance question was answered, and they have no issues with LiFePO4 cells. LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
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Old 05-06-2013, 04:49 PM   #23
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Bob - sorry to disappoint - my Mini was stock (purchased in Europe while in the Marines on a Med Cruise). Reason she was a sleeper is that she looked like a typical "econobox" and I drove her in the hills of Pennsylvania - turns and twists galore - I could keep up with my buddy's Corvette!
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Old 05-06-2013, 05:14 PM   #24
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No disappointment, the original Mini was a fun ride. I think they made 500 of the new ones that got a AC propulsion drive train. AC Propulsion | Creating electric vehicles that people want to drive Founded in 1992 by Alan Cocconi, who is the real brains behind the system but no longer part of the company.
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Old 05-06-2013, 05:31 PM   #25
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Thoughts on Solar Panels

Henry,

Since you already have a 12v house battery, you'll need an MPPT solar controller that charges 12v - there are a bunch on the market. We installed 2 each Outback Energy's 60 Amp versions since we had just about that much solar in each string. They have been running continuously since fall 2008. Their design is to use higher voltage from the PV array to charge a lower voltage battery. The controller is located near the main bus (48v in our case). To make sure we are ALWAYS using energy from the sun, even if there is charging from other sources, we keep the voltage of the controller set at the highest possible voltage for the battery - setting the shore charger a bit lower and the generator is lower still. Outback has a nice remote panel for the controller - but most likely yours will be in the engine room, so no remote is necessary.

We have Sun Power panels - 40 v nominal - we wire in pairs to 80 v nominal - then in parallel to the breaker and then to the controller. The pilot house roof of the GH47 is quite large - you may wish to relocate some of the antennas to prevent shadows.

PV panels generate heat and power output is decreased with increased heat. So, you'll want to mount up off the deck to allow for ventilation. We used standard roof-top rails for mounting the standard panels. In future new builds, I feel we will fabricate an FRP framework and remove the panel from it's aluminum frame to install directly to the FRP frame - the PV panel now will be the actual roof of the space below - If we use Sanyo HIT panels, they get up to 15% additional charging from BELOW - free energy, so to speak.

I have a free app on my iPhone - Sun Seeker - that tracks the sun through the day, giving you the altitude from the horizon at your location. If you subtract that number from 90, you now have the angular difference between plumb (to the PV panels) and the sun. Now take the cosine of this angle and you have the % of the rated amount for the panel - this will be the maximum possible energy the panel can use with the sun at that angle. Of course, there are losses all down the line - but, it's better than paying for the energy in generator use time and fuel.

The goal, most likely, will be to keep your refrigerator, lighting, pumps and entertainment running w/o add'l energy needs. Don't expect air conditioning from such a small area. Nor cooking. I forgot how much those side by side fridges we put in the GH47s use, but a quick visit to the website for the unit and you'll get the annual usage. That's going to be your greatest drain.

I have also found that Xantrex inverters have much more overhead than advertised. You can do a test to determine what your inverter is using when NOT putting out any AC. I recall something as high as 8 amps for the Xantrex?

I cannot recommend Outback's products too highly - both inverters and MPPT controllers. They really stand behind their products. Don't be put off that they are not marine units - I installed the household (non-sealed) ones since they put out more power. Just keep them dry.
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Old 05-06-2013, 07:17 PM   #26
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They are not lithium ion but rather LiFePO4 chemistry, a big difference as to safety. Here is a 2800 post thread just on these cells for housebanks aboard your boat and that insurance question was answered, and they have no issues with LiFePO4 cells. LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
I just tabbed through every second or third page in the above thread looking for insurance discussions. I found two or three. The typical response from LifePo4 enthusiasts was something like..."There's nothing in my policy that says you can't". I'm going to e-mail the big insurance carriers for a specific reading tomorrow.
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Old 05-06-2013, 07:24 PM   #27
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Are you considering a housebank of LiFePO4 cells? I didn't know you cruised that much to justify the costs, but you will be welcome in the "quiet" anchorages by not having to run the gen set with those cells.
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:23 PM   #28
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I certainly want to encourage threads like this. Always good too think outside the box.
As a matter of passing interest, I got my licence in the first mini to ever make it to our city. My aunt owned it. That was Gisborne, NZ, 1962, I was 16, passed first time. It was a far cry from the Mini Coopers however. Just 850cc, and gearbox almost a crash box..synchro almost non-existent...fun tho. But I digress....

I enjoy going as green as I can, avoiding a motor gen by being only 12v away from the dock, and with 2 solar panels and the Airbreeze wind gen keeping the batts up out on the pick. However if I could afford it, I wouldn't mind trying one of these......

Greenline Boats Hybrid eyachts Australia

I went over the 33 at last years Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, and it was impressive what they have packed in, yet did I not feel too busy, and they had kept the weight down by all sorts of weight-saving innovations. I think the 40 would be even better. They might have one there in a couple of weeks at this years show. I'll report back with pics etc if so.
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:49 PM   #29
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Pete,

They are an innovative boat builder. 1.3 Kw-hr from such a small built-in panel, but of interest to me is the panel employs forced air cooling. I've always known solar output drops as the sun heats up the panel, as I've watched my amp meter show a large increase on cold days that are cloudy but then clears. So I've wondered if forced air cooling would still be a plus in overall production after you subtract the power for the fan. I guess they proved that, otherwise it wouldn't be used. You know a hybrid boat is serious when they use lithium batteries.
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Old 05-07-2013, 12:49 AM   #30
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OK folks, this is the 21st century, with current technology don't you think it is time to add solar boating to the mix?
Good question. Here's a real long opinion....

Solar certainly has promise. The entire roof of our new 787 assembly building in Charleston, SC is covered with solar panels. I'm told that the power generated from them when fed back into the grid makes a major big dent in the power bill for operating the assembly plant, which as you can imagine uses a LOT of power.

So I think solar, like wind, makes sense where it makes sense. In Charleston, it's sunny most of the time and even in the winter the days are reasonably long. Not so in the PNW, BC, SE Alaska, etc. as Tom pointed out. So solar is not very common here other than some folks off the grid use it to heat hot water. For electricity they tend to use generators.

I do not see the problem so much as a technological one but a practical one. Moving a boat around of the type most boaters still want these days takes a lot of power. One or two gas or diesel engines worth of power. And most boaters, from what I've been able to gather, want to go fast. Or at least reasonably fast. While there are those who say they like going slow (8 knots or less) I think in the overall market of boats that are sold worldwide, they are a very tiny proportion of buyers or potential buyers.

People like to go fast. They want to get places NOW, they want to communicate NOW. My job takes me all over the world and everywhere we go--- China, Brazil, the UK, Norway, Malta--- people are trying to go faster. Trains, cars, planes, boats, you name it. The only thing that stops people from going faster is cost, safety, or a lack of technology.

For every slow cruising boat owner I know or have met, I know or have met many times more people who have bought Bayliners or Sea Rays or Grady-Whites or ski boats or bass boats or some sort of relatively go-fast production boat. And as I think Art and others have pointed out a few times, the interest in slow cruising boats seems to be dying out with the generations that have them today. The relatively few twenty, thirty, and forty-somethings I know who are interested in boats to fish or take their young families cruising in all yearn for fast ones.

There are huge billboards in China promoting new oceanside developments that include manmade lagoons and docks for keeping a boat outside your condo-type home. Alongside the development billboards are the billboards promoting the boats their market research has shown their potential buyers want to own. They ALL show fast, sleek boats--- Sea Rays are predominant along with other fast runabout or express-cruiser type boats. No billboards for 8 knot plodders.

Qatar, now the world's richest nation, has boat dealers alongside the Ferrari and Lamborghini dealers at their new massive oceanside development, The Pearl. And the boats in the marina? All fast cruisers or express cruisers. No "efficient" cruisers like Nordic Tugs or whatever. And no sailboats. Not one.

And you're not going to be running your friends and family around at 20-plus knots in a sleek, Ferrari-like boat that's 40 or 50 or 70 feet long that's solar powered.

In my department there are eight (I think) very active boat owners. Of the eight, I am the only one with a slow, "efficient" boat.

(I am also the oldest one... perhaps another "indicator" of some kind although as I have stated in the past I absolutely abhor going slow in a boat and my wife is the same way. The only reason we put up with it is because we so far aren't willing to spend on boating the money it would take for us to have a go-fast cruising boat. We have other things to spend it on that are more important to us right now.)

The other boaters in my department have various models of Bayliner cruisers and a couple of them own Tollycraft 26s, a gas-powered inboard, V-drive fast cruiser.

So while the go slow, use as little energy as possible boaters are definitely out there, I don't think they're out there in enough numbers to make solar powered boats viable EXCEPT to the very few who are interested enough in the challenge to tinker around and come up with something workable on their own. Workable, but not producible to a market large enough to make it producible.

I think solar is a long, long way from even beginning to compete with fossil fuels when it comes to cars, boats, planes, etc.. We keep discovering more petroleum and gas reserves or new, more efficient ways to produce more petroleum-based fuels.

It's certainly a tantalizing windmill to tilt at--- harnessing the zero cost of the sun's energy. And as I say, there are applications that make economic sense, like our assembly plant roof.

But as a practical, marketable, producible source of energy, particularly for individual transportation devices like vehicles, boats, planes, etc., I think there are better options. Fuel cells, for example. We (Boeing) flew a fuel-cell powered plane in Spain a couple of years ago. Total success. Now nobody in the industry is pretending that fuel cells are going to power the 7X7 in the future. But we have them flying on test planes (737) to power various systems on the plane, thus removing those loads from the engines which means the engines can operate more efficiently. It's still a long way from being a production reality, but it has promise.

I think solar boats can and do work, and for the tinkerer like deckofficer and others it's an interesting and challenging objective. But I think only on a one-off basis.

But in the big picture I believe there are energy sources "out there" that we have not even realized exist, nor do we have the knowledge yet to discover them let alone make use of them, that eventually will push petroleum and solar and wind and fuel cells into the past.

After all, the Egyptians could have built a 777 instead of piling up rocks into pyramids. All the principles of mathematics, physics, chemisty, aerodynamics, metalurgy, you name it, existed when they were mucking about with boulders. All the principles, theorems and formulas for mining bauxite and smelting it into aluminum and forming it into airplane skins and all the rest of it existed when the Egyptians were doing their thing with rocks and papyrus. They've existed since time or earth or Mind or Spirit or whatever you believe in, began. Two and two has always equalled four.

So I am otimistic that the future holds some amazing things that we cannot even conceive of even though we humans always tend to think that the time we are living in is the absolute ultimate, it can't get any better than this. The Egyptians certainly felt that way, and if you'd have told them that one day man would be flying around the world willy nilly and driving over the ground at 70 mph and communicating with each other using little handheld glass panels they'd have put you inside one of their big pile of rocks.

So.... I think solar is an interesting stop along the way and in some applications it can prove useful but I don't think it's going to be the be-all, end-all solution to our energy requirements. Its applications are too limited-- geographically let alone performance-wise--- and the "bang for the buck" in terms of energy for the investment does not seem to be there and I tend to think never will be. Something else will come along to push it aside.

As far as the forum is concerned I think the suggestion to create a "bucket" for the alternative energy enthusiasts is a good one. It's the kind of subject that the proponents tend to get very, very detaily about as they debate the pros and cons of this sort of solar cell or that one and how to wire them up and what motors are the best and so on. Interesting to them, not so much I suspect to the majority of participants on forums like this who want to know why their diesels are putting out white smoke.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:07 AM   #31
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+1 on everything Marin said. There's technically possible, and then there's practical. It's technically possible to go to the moon.

Still, this topic is very interesting. Has anyone done the math? I mean, how much solar energy falls on a reasonable-sized boat, and how much energy does it take to run a reasonable suite of propulsion, heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems?
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:46 AM   #32
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Yes, a "bucket" is a good idea. Or if enthusiasts want to delve into the details, deckofficer provided the thread link (above) to the Cruisers forum where the subject has been covered in mind boggling technical detail, and includes the inevitable debate between skeptics and supporters. Like it or not there are political undertones inherent in this technology.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:31 AM   #33
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What Marin misses out on is that none of us working in the energy-efficient area are proposing to replace go-fast boats or claim a big segment of the market. Yes, most boaters want to go fast. But, there remains a significant segment of boaters used to going slowly (sailboaters) reaching retirement, fixed-income ages (baby boomers) that will buy slow boats. Look at the continued sales of Kadey-Krogens and Nordhavns.

Another interesting thing about boat building that many miss out on is that this industry is not dissimilar to the automobile industry in its infancy. It takes a minimal amount of capital to start building boats - Yes, there are the big companies out there mass-producing boats for the bulk of the market. But, in Maine, there are boat builders that build a hand full of boats each year - 1, 2, 3 or so - and make a profit. These builders are not "tinkerers" but building for a select group of buyers.

Let me say again, NONE of us is trying to convert those who live in dark areas (Pacific Northwest) where the sun shines once or twice a year - or those who actually have jobs and need a quick boat to get out to the Gulf Stream for a day's fishing - or those who don't really care about spending several hundred dollars a day to push their 50 footer at 30 knots. They will NEVER buy a slow boat, much less one using renewable energy.

Fuel cells have some potential. I worked on a Department of Energy grant with Florida Institute of Technology to do a "demonstration" project using a fuel cell for "hotel" loads on a yacht. Searay had already walked away from the project when we were asked to join with FIT. After months of research we sourced all the parts to make it work, including hydrogen generators from Proton Energy Systems - our goal was not only to power the "hotel" loads but to make the hydrogen on board AND propel the boat.

Interestingly, in order to generate enough energy from our amount of solar to actually make the hydrogen from sea water (first turn salt water to fresh), we had to store it temporarily in a LiFiPo battery - then invert to AC power to run the hydrogen generator. But, we felt we could make it all work on the budget proposed by the grant. Unfortunately for us, we never found out. FIT yanked the proposal and decided to get a research grant in place of the demonstration one.

But, it got us to thinking - one way to have a solar boat that could perform would be to have a solar farm land side producing the power to make the hydrogen that would power the fuel cell(s) on the boat. Only works if you have a fair amount of real estate (like your factory roof) for the solar.

From my understanding, making hydrogen from water is energy intensive so you need a low-cost source of energy - wind - solar - water. Or, you can make it from petroleum, which does defeat the purpose of using less of the finite source of petroleum in the earth. The marketable reason to do this is, of course, pollution - a fuel cell does not pollute whereas diesels and gas motors, do.

Interestingly, Green Line, a boat builder in Slovenia, has enjoyed success with its hybrid-powered yachts - which have some solar on the overheads. There are others, doing the same in smaller ways.

Even though the Green Lines (and others) do not produce enough solar to cruise in "real time," they do produce some energy from the sun which is then stored in LiFiPo cells for future use. Any use of this stored energy means less fossil fuel burned - whether it's just to power the fridge or take a 4 knot cocktail cruise around the harbor on electric power. I feel that this is a good thing.

I feel what I am most advocating here is that the use of ANY renewables (wind or solar) is a step in the right direction. And, if a yacht can be built that can cruise on renewables alone, that is definitely a step in the right direction.

With the plethora of baby boomers reaching retirement age - many of whom are getting out of sail - a slow, energy-efficient cruiser may have some appeal. Electric boats are not aimed only at the "techies." The goal is to make them as effortless to use (actually more effortless) than your traditional diesel-powered yacht. This can be from the little things like no switch-over of power when leaving the dock to motor maintenance (virtually zero with an electric motor) to simplicity of steerable pod drives.

Yes, you're not going fast - yes, you're daily cruising miles is limited - yes, the boats need to be lean and light - but, with all this said, there are folks who will find this silent, fuel-free cruising a delight. Certainly not all - not those in the northern climates (BTW, it is my understanding more retirees head south than north?) - not those who want to transit the North Sea. But those who enjoy quiet (read: "silent"), energy-efficient, cruising.
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:32 AM   #34
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Yes, most boaters want to go fast. But, there remains a significant segment of boaters used to going slowly (sailboaters) reaching retirement, fixed-income ages (baby boomers) that will buy slow boats. Look at the continued sales of Kadey-Krogens and Nordhavns. Correct


Let me say again, NONE of us is trying to convert those who live in dark areas (Pacific Northwest). Rather than trying to convert those in the dark areas, why not say solar is not feasible in the Northern climes with today's technology?


(BTW, it is my understanding more retirees head south than north?) - not those who want to transit the North Sea. But those who enjoy quiet (read: "silent"), energy-efficient, cruising. It is amazing how many boaters and boats there are in the PNW and NE US who are from the South. Count me as one. I had a choice and boating in FL or CA does not compare.
Reuben

On a marketing, resale and technical basis, why would a big center hull tri of say 70' be better than a mono hull like an Outer Reef, or even as good? Both are destined as blue water cruisers.
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Old 05-07-2013, 12:46 PM   #35
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Reuben--- I agree with your post and that there is a market for the kind of boat you propose. The challenge is that since that market is very small-- and I believe you are overestimating its size considerably for a number if reasons-- how do you make a very small number of boats using fairly expensive technology at an inexpensive enough production cost to make them affordable to that market?

There are plenty of exceptions, but all the people I know who are sailboaters who have changed over to power as they age are people of modest means, most of them retired and on somewhat fixed incomes. When they buy a powerboat they spend perhaps $50,000 to $100,000. Yes, there are wealthy exceptions. But the few I know or know of bought large, fairly fast boats because they are no different than the vast majority of us--- they want to carry a lot of "stuff" including friends, sons and daughters, grandkids, etc. and--- they want to go reasonably fast.

No question there are people like yourself and deckofficer who desire a low energy, super-efficient boat, which if it's electric means light, very slow, and with a short range, at least with today's technology. But that market I believe is really small which creates a vicious cycle, so to speak. The market is small, the cost is high, which in turn makes the market even smaller, which pushes the cost even higher, and so it goes.

Which is why I believe this concept will never grow past the enthusiast, one- off, create it yourself stage. As I said earlier, I think there are energy sources "out there" that once discovered will give us the abilities most of us desire--- as big as we wnnt, carry what we want, go as fast as we want, and go as far aswe want. This has been the pattern throughout history. Horses, steam, petroleum, and whatever comes next.
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Old 05-07-2013, 01:23 PM   #36
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Well, I'm on board with what Reuben said (no surprise) about the marketplace, current technology, and the desire for clean, quiet cruising. I am a sailboater, so a solar powered boat that can knock off 100~150 nm 24 hour runs suits me fine. Take a look at the simplistic design of the Atlantic Sun 21






This above is nothing more than a heavy C60 commercial cat ferry converted to solar electric, outfitted with 10 Kw of solar panels and AGM lead acid batteries that crossed the Atlantic running at 5.5 kt or 130 nm 24 hour daily runs. If something like this could be built and sold for under $300K new, which I'm sure it can, I'm in. I like the totally flat deck between the amas, where beach chairs and portable tables can be configured for visiting guests. A central wet bar, fridge, BBQ and storage for the deck furniture would be nice. One hull for galley, inside settee, and nav station, the other for berths and head/shower. Nothing fancy, just usable. In good weather at anchorage you entertain guest outside on the flat deck, in lousy weather other boaters have you over in their enclosed salon.

Reuben, could you copy the above boat, making it lighter, and sell for $250K?
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Old 05-07-2013, 01:44 PM   #37
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As I said earlier, I think there are energy sources "out there" that once discovered will give us the abilities most of us desire--- as big as we wnnt, carry what we want, go as fast as we want, and go as far aswe want. This has been the pattern throughout history. Horses, steam, petroleum, and whatever comes next.
Marin, you are 100% correct, in the opinion of NASA, the Russian Space Federation and college Physics Profs. The greatest source of "interesting" and unlimited energy is earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field is the reason we can survive here, it deflects the radiation from space and moves much of it many tens of thousand of miles outside the earth allowing life as we know it to exist. Otherwise we would be radiated in no time as if we were sitting on top of Chernobyl when it let go.

The earth's core is molten metal with the outer layers of earth rotating around this mass, creating a force field similar to the effect of a rotor and stator in an electric motor. Or some similar more complicated explanation I will let more astute than me lecture on -think Gaussian fields.
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Old 05-07-2013, 01:47 PM   #38
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There is always cold fusion we have yet to master.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:16 PM   #39
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Reuben and Bob, don't get me wrong. I don't think tinkering with solar-powered electric boats is a waste of time. Many of our best technologies have been stumbled across while someone was doing something else. The classic example, at least in the popular but undoubtedly fictional story, has Thomas Newcomen boiling water for a cup of tea and as he watched the steam come out he realized there was energy there that could be used to do work. (Sometimes this story is attributed to James Watt but he came after Newcomen, who designed and built the first practical "atmospheric" steam engines.)

Given that people had been messing about trying to harness steam long before Tom came along, the real story of how he got interested in steam is probably far less Hollywood than watching a teapot. But the point is that there are many examples of people attempting to do one thing and realizing there was an even better way to do the same thing.

So experimenting with solar may very well lead someone to figure out how to harness a totally different form of energy that's more efficient, powerful, etc.

Two of my recent projects for Boeing had to do with just that. First in China and then the other month in Brazil we shot technology research projects that Boeing is involved with or interested in becoming involved with covering a range of technologies from biofuel to RFD to organic composites (as opposed to petroleum-based composites). We shot a small airplane designed and built by students in a university in Brazil. The plane is made of organic composites and it currently holds the world speed record for this type of plane.

So pushing the boundaries and trying new things is always good. Some will fail, some will work, and some will work but not be practical to adopt on a world-wide scale. But it's all worthwhile.

My own belief is that the solar-boat idea falls into the last category. It works, but is not practical on a large, producible, affordable, marketable scale because it does not offer what the bulk of the boating market wants or will continue to want. And that will keep it in the one-off, home-built category. But that is not the same as saying it's a waste of time to try to make it work. Because who knows what might be learned or discovered in the process?
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:49 PM   #40
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Marin, I understand your point and accept it. Among power boaters, the vast majority want speed to meet schedules dictated by the working life of returning to port at the end of the weekend and then work on Monday. Among sailors that are working, the same constraints apply. But among full time cruisers, solar works now in the perfect scenario of say Caribbean cruising where your passages are less than 200 nm and then your on the hook for a week, soaking up energy from the sun. An ocean passage just means you will need a higher harvest rate of solar energy, and there are a few out there that can cross oceans now on solar. It is this small market that IMHO will grow as we baby boomers set out on a cruising lifestyle for our retirement. Should our retirement income be such that we can't afford a $2 mil Dashew offshore FPB and the fuel to cross oceans, solar or sail is the viable option. For us that have sailed long passages and have been caught in the middle of the night with too much sail up, solar looks pretty good. Not to mention a sailboat doesn't always have winds or wind in a desired quadrant, so on comes the diesel. The main idea I want to get across is with solar you collect energy over a period of time, store it, and then use as needed either for propulsion, domestic loads, or the charging of smaller craft like electric dinghies, kayaks, Segways, and those neat little Sea Doo underwater scooters. Life is so much easier powered by electricity.
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Bob
USCG Unlimited Tonnage Open Ocean (CMA)
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