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Old 07-12-2022, 07:59 AM   #1
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Electric Boats

This is a new thread/forum about electric boats.
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Old 07-12-2022, 11:34 AM   #2
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Electric Powered Boats - First Post

Hello all, I'm pleased to see this new category established as we establish a new course towards an all-electric powered vessel. For those who do not know our background, my wife (Maria) and I have enjoyed boating since we met 30+ years ago and enjoyed trawler the past 17 years (3 Nordhavn and 1 Helmsman). We lived aboard (part time) a few years in San Diego, CA and can say those were the best years of our lives. After selling our last trawler and coming to the realization Mary was done boating it was time for me to figure out how I would remain on the water. Thinking small I decided to learn how to sail and after a year of research I commissioned Marshall Marine Corp. to build us a 16' Sandpiper cat style sailboat which we keep in our garage. I selected this style boat for its large beam to length ratio and stability. Recognizing we would likely spend more time harbor cruising than sailing finding the right power source was crucial. For a boat this small we are limited to OB power with a traditional stern mounted OB which IMO takes away from the beautiful lines of the boat. After some research we found another builder who successfully modified the installation of a Torqeedo OB including a side mount (aft) that can easily be removed while sailing. The OB was the same model we had on our 10' Gig Harbor, and we were very impressed with its performance.

After owning the Sandpiper for about eight months it's time to start thinking about our next boat which is likely going to be an all-electric harbor / bay cruiser that can also go outside (weather permitting) and cruise the coastline. While not a true trawler I though starting this thread would be informative for others as we explore where the industry is today and its future. I plan to talk about more than just our boat plans and include other types of boats and related systems which in some cases be relative to trawlers.

Based on what I have read to date on electric power and hybrid electric systems I see successes with smaller boats / systems and believe in time we will see more electric power and systems on trawlers. I hope everyone enjoys following our newest journey and as always, I welcome inputs and comments (positive and negative).

John T. - Nordhavn 4040, 4061, 3522 & Helmsman 38E former owner
Marshal Marine Sandpiper - current owner
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Old 07-12-2022, 05:21 PM   #3
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Are you familiar with the Northman Revo 870?
https://www.naturalyachts.com/nexusrevo870electric
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Old 07-12-2022, 05:27 PM   #4
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Maybe a Duffy would be a good next step if you are looking for just a day boat similar to your Sandpiper.

https://duffyboats.com/boat-models/
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Old 07-12-2022, 05:58 PM   #5
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I have a question and I donít offer it to be a smart ass. Iím not immune to being a smart ass but I suspect this EV move may fairly soon be nothing more than a fad.

I think itís assumed that spending oneís money on a boat (or experimental boat) that is electric powered w a motor driven by lithium batteries will be a smart and objective move.

I hear some but less than lots of talk about hydrogen power. Does that include motors? How does hydrogen provide power?

Will hydrogen power take over as a power source in the near future?
Is there anyone here that is on top of the hydrogen power development?
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Old 07-12-2022, 06:37 PM   #6
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I have a question and I donít offer it to be a smart ass. Iím not immune to being a smart ass but I suspect this EV move may fairly soon be nothing more than a fad.

I think itís assumed that spending oneís money on a boat (or experimental boat) that is electric powered w a motor driven by lithium batteries will be a smart and objective move.

I hear some but less than lots of talk about hydrogen power. Does that include motors? How does hydrogen provide power?

Will hydrogen power take over as a power source in the near future?
Is there anyone here that is on top of the hydrogen power development?

Hydrogen can be used in 2 ways. You can either burn it in an internal combustion engine, or you can use a hydrogen fuel cell to convert it to electricity.



In general, electric powered equipment is fairly flexible and future-proof (battery related concerns aside), as you can always just produce electricity from a different source and you no longer have to change out all of the equipment to change fuel types.
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Old 07-12-2022, 06:41 PM   #7
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I was going to post these under 'Interesting Boats' in the General Discussion thread, but it seems more appropriate here.

This months issue of Maine Boats Homes & Harbors had an article on Solar Sal Boats, built by Belmont Boat Works in Belfast Maine. These are designed to enable sustained cruising under solar power alone and have extensive photovoltaic panel arrays, unlike some others like Greenline that are hybrid or battery powered where a small set of photovoltaic panels allows for charging the batteries for a more limited range of around 20 miles.

The article reviewed a 24 ft 'picnic' boat, but they have designs for 38 and 45 ft cruisers (by Sam Devlin). It's interesting that these boats resemble the naphtha powered boats of the late 1800's - long and lean, narrow for their length, full displacement, designed to make the most efficient use of very limited power - just like electric boats today. The 38 and 45 also remind me of the Pilgirm 40.

These designs are limited to sustained cruise speeds of around 5 knots in full sunlight. That would be tough in an area with significant adverse currents, or regions that are often cloudy or foggy (like the PNW or Maine). I imagine they would be most useful in places like Florida. I also wonder how many people would buy a 38 ft boat with the interior space of most 28 footers, but slip costs like any other 38 footer. Nonetheless, these designs are beginning to approach the point of feasible cruising under solar power.

https://www.solarsal.solar
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Old 07-12-2022, 07:43 PM   #8
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While I like the concept of my Trinka 10' dinghy with its Epropulsion outboard and 20 to 25 mile range, I think that is likely about as close as I will get to an electric boat because of my cruising style. Now if I was more likely to cruise from dock to dock (with shore power), I wonder what the feasibility of a cruising boat that you would recharge every night (like an electric forklift) would be. Nothing wrong with capturing some solar power, but I think the market's going to need a 6 or 7 knot cruise with a 40 or 50 mile range to interest cruisers.

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Old 07-12-2022, 08:07 PM   #9
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While I like the concept of my Trinka 10' dinghy with its Epropulsion outboard and 20 to 25 mile range, I think that is likely about as close as I will get to an electric boat because of my cruising style. Now if I was more likely to cruise from dock to dock (with shore power), I wonder what the feasibility of a cruising boat that you would recharge every night (like an electric forklift) would be. Nothing wrong with capturing some solar power, but I think the market's going to need a 6 or 7 knot cruise with a 40 or 50 mile range to interest cruisers.

Ted
I think you're right (and I too am looking at e-Propulsion for a dinghy). Anything less than a 6-7 knot cruise speed becomes a very limited market, probably restricted to lakes or day 'picnic' boats for a (very) leisurely ride around a sheltered bay.

A 8-9 knot cruise speed plus >100 mile range would start getting my attention. Though, unless it's some kind of ultra-light speciality craft, it doesn't seem possible to achieve that with the current state of the art in a boat that would offer reasonable 'cruising' accommodations. I think the Solar Sal designs by Devlin have pushed the envelope as far as it can go right now (and they look pretty good to me, except for the slow speed).

The laws of physics are very strict. The intensity of sunlight striking the Earth is about 1.4 kW/sq meter. Commercial photovoltaic solar cells are about 15-20% efficient, meaning can extract about 280 watts/sq m. Even 20 sq meters of photovoltaic cells only gives about 5,600 watts to work with. Seems hard to move a conventionally sized and weight boat at reasonable speeds with that.

PV cells will never achieve 100% efficiency, because nothing does. Assuming someday reaching the 50% efficiency some experimental PV cells have shown in lab tests might increase it to 14 kW of power from a 20 sq m PV array. That might be enough to do something reasonable.

But, there are a lot of 'buts.' It might be more feasible in Florida and the Bahamas than PNW or Maine. PV cell output would be greatly reduced in cloudy or foggy conditions (to say nothing of trying to move at night). Batteries would still be needed to store power for those circumstances.

The dream of a pure solar powered boat (or car, or plane) is alluring, but very difficult to achieve in a practical sense. There just isn't enough sunlight falling on the surface area of a vehicle to enable a practical design that could be exclusively powered that way. Compromises are needed (like the Solar Sal Devlin designs).
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Old 07-12-2022, 08:50 PM   #10
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Professional Boat Builder has some recent and very detailed discussions on electric builds for commercial uses. It it worth hunting down the articles.
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Old 07-12-2022, 10:10 PM   #11
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I have a question and I donít offer it to be a smart ass. Iím not immune to being a smart ass but I suspect this EV move may fairly soon be nothing more than a fad.

I think itís assumed that spending oneís money on a boat (or experimental boat) that is electric powered w a motor driven by lithium batteries will be a smart and objective move.

I hear some but less than lots of talk about hydrogen power. Does that include motors? How does hydrogen provide power?

Will hydrogen power take over as a power source in the near future?
Is there anyone here that is on top of the hydrogen power development?
As much as internal combustion power is a fad, yes.

Steam was the motive power of choice until internal combustion took over.
IC had many detractors until there were robust power plants and fuel
supplies. It was a new concept that had many negatives the steam didn't.
Couldn't use coal, etc. The new fuels were toxic, expensive and technically
harder to create.

That 'fad' had most of the kinks worked out now as steam had before it.

Electric motive power is already practical for many situations and will only
become more so. Hydrogen still has a long way to go as a widespread fuel
for electric fuel cells but at least it is the most abundant element.
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Old 07-12-2022, 11:38 PM   #12
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We personally aren't there yet, but still in planning for our parallel hybrid with solar assist. No brainer for us, but wouldn't be for everyone.
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Old 07-13-2022, 08:38 AM   #13
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Another 'electric' boat concept, the Folkboat, the subject of a recent BoatTest article. Can't tell if the photovoltaic array is intended to provide enough output to enable sustained operation on solar power alone (like the Solar Sal), or as a supplemental way to help charge the batteries.

https://boattest.com/article/new-aff...l-below-102000
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Old 07-13-2022, 09:29 AM   #14
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As much as internal combustion power is a fad, yes.

Steam was the motive power of choice until internal combustion took over.
IC had many detractors until there were robust power plants and fuel
supplies. It was a new concept that had many negatives the steam didn't.
Couldn't use coal, etc. The new fuels were toxic, expensive and technically
harder to create.

That 'fad' had most of the kinks worked out now as steam had before it.

Electric motive power is already practical for many situations and will only
become more so. Hydrogen still has a long way to go as a widespread fuel
for electric fuel cells but at least it is the most abundant element.
Interesting how IC wasnít very popular early on. ďIC had many detractors until there were robust power plants and fuel suppliesĒ. So much like EV today. Gas stations and charging stations. But as an industry gasoline autos was as small as a grain of sand compared to now w the huge infrastructure for gas cars in place.

Iím not a Bill Nye type guy but there must be alternatives. As transportation the gasoline car and boat are still far cheaper. But thereís actually a few used (and thus cheap) EVís on the market.

Is Carvanna a fad? Re the industry a lot of money is lost at the dealership. Iíve purchased very few new cars but it was nice to be able to return to base even just to ask a question. Perhaps dealerships have been a luxury we just canít afford anymore?
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Old 07-13-2022, 09:59 AM   #15
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Is Carvanna a fad? Re the industry a lot of money is lost at the dealership. Iíve purchased very few new cars but it was nice to be able to return to base even just to ask a question. Perhaps dealerships have been a luxury we just canít afford anymore?
Regarding Carvana and dealerships, I never thought they were a luxury, more like a necessary evil. They add cost to the purchase. With today's technology, not sure why they are needed. Most everything else is purchased without going through a salesperson. As far as I know, Tesla has no dealerships. I wouldn't miss them if they disappear, along with real estate agents.

I sold and bought my most recent car through Carvana and thought it was a great experience. They gave me a better than expected trade-in and I ended up with a better used car than any I could find locally though dealerships or private. They showed up at my house, unloaded my car, and loaded up my old one. They handle all the paperwork. Good warranty and protection if you don't like it. Clean Carfax and all maintenance records. No pressure or salesperson to deal with. What's not to love?
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Old 07-13-2022, 10:33 AM   #16
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"but at least it (hydrogen) is the most abundant element"

It is the most abundant element but only because it is combined with oxygen to make water and water is the most common molecule on our planet. There is essentially no free elemental hydrogen in nature to be mined. It all has to be created by man. How?

Hydrogen is used extensively in petrochemical production, but it is made by partially burning natural gas to separate the carbon from the hydrogen atoms. Half of the energy is destroyed in making elemental hydrogen. And guess where the carbon that is separated goes- into the atmosphere as CO2. So much for green.

The only way to make green hydrogen is to use electric power from a green source such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and use an electrolytic process to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in water. Then it has to be compressed to store and transport and that takes energy.

Compressed hydrogen will see very little use because it is expensive and requires high pressure tanks to store which are bulky. I don't think you will ever see it in cars or boats. At best it might be used as a short-term way to store energy from a solar farm and convert it back to electricity to use at night. And the only way to do that reasonably efficiently is with fuel cells. Burning it in an IC engine/turbine to run a generator is only 30-40% efficient.

So hydrogen is not a source of energy, it is a way to store energy.

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Old 07-13-2022, 10:40 AM   #17
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Regarding Carvana and dealerships, I never thought they were a luxury, more like a necessary evil. They add cost to the purchase. With today's technology, not sure why they are needed. Most everything else is purchased without going through a salesperson. As far as I know, Tesla has no dealerships. I wouldn't miss them if they disappear, along with real estate agents.

I sold and bought my most recent car through Carvana and thought it was a great experience. They gave me a better than expected trade-in and I ended up with a better used car than any I could find locally though dealerships or private. They showed up at my house, unloaded my car, and loaded up my old one. They handle all the paperwork. Good warranty and protection if you don't like it. Clean Carfax and all maintenance records. No pressure or salesperson to deal with. What's not to love?
Couldn't imagine buying a vehicle (new or used) without test driving comparable models by different manufacturers to figure out exactly what I wanted. But then I tend to own vehicles longer than most people. I've had 3 vehicles since 1980.

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Old 07-13-2022, 10:58 AM   #18
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"but at least it (hydrogen) is the most abundant element"

It is the most abundant element but only because it is combined with oxygen to make water and water is the most common molecule on our planet. There is essentially no free elemental hydrogen in nature to be mined. It all has to be created by man. How?

Hydrogen is used extensively in petrochemical production, but it is made by partially burning natural gas to separate the carbon from the hydrogen atoms. Half of the energy is destroyed in making elemental hydrogen. And guess where the carbon that is separated goes- into the atmosphere as CO2. So much for green.

The only way to make green hydrogen is to use electric power from a green source such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and use an electrolytic process to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in water. Then it has to be compressed to store and transport and that takes energy.

Compressed hydrogen will see very little use because it is expensive and requires high pressure tanks to store which are bulky. I don't think you will ever see it in cars or boats. At best it might be used as a short-term way to store energy from a solar farm and convert it back to electricity to use at night. And the only way to do that reasonably efficiently is with fuel cells. Burning it in an IC engine/turbine to run a generator is only 30-40% efficient.

So hydrogen is not a source of energy, it is a way to store energy.

David
What I mean by H being the most abundant element is that it makes up
74% of the universe with Helium making up about 24% and all the rest of
the elements are essentially impurities. Intended as a 'fun fact'.

You missed my main point in that what seem like major difficulties today
will rather soon become quaint objections once held to be insurmountable.
For example, you don't even mention storing Hydrogen in hydride (solid) form.

Another point worth noting is that burning hydrocarbons is nothing
more than using previously stored energy and thus is part of our
current problem. Renewable production of Hydrogen avoids this.
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Old 07-13-2022, 11:01 AM   #19
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Couldn't imagine buying a vehicle (new or used) without test driving comparable models by different manufacturers to figure out exactly what I wanted. But then I tend to own vehicles longer than most people. I've had 3 vehicles since 1980.

Ted
That's a fair point Ted. In the case of Carvana, you could (currently) test drive cars from dealers but end up buying from Carvana. In the end, if car dealerships become extinct, I think there would have to be some purchase protection policy. Like most anything else you buy, it should be returnable if not happy with it. Think about things like mattresses, a/v electronics, clothing, etc. We often buy without trying first, knowing that there is low risk if you're not satisfied. Anyone know Tesla's policy?
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Old 07-13-2022, 11:19 AM   #20
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A 8-9 knot cruise speed plus >100 mile range would start getting my attention.
This has been my goal, and I think it can be achieved with sufficient battery. Power density advancements are coming soon. In the meantime, for trawler-sized boats (~40'), it's about 1 kWh/nm at 5 kts. So two Tesla Model 3 battery packs (salvage) at 80 kWh of usable power would get you sixteen hours of 5 kt cruising (80 nm). This, of course, doesn't account for house power or solar inputs.

Quote:
The laws of physics are very strict. The intensity of sunlight striking the Earth is about 1.4 kW/sq meter.
That's the insolation at Earth's orbit (e.g. what gets to something in space at the distance from the sun that the Earth is). The average insolation on the Earth's surface at MSL is about 700 W/sq m. Solar panel efficiencies are currently (see what I did there? :P) at about 22%, so 154 W/sq m. Daily production, from what I hear, is about 4x the wattage in Wh, so ~600 Wh/sq m.

Quote:
The dream of a pure solar powered boat (or car, or plane) is alluring, but very difficult to achieve in a practical sense. There just isn't enough sunlight falling on the surface area of a vehicle to enable a practical design that could be exclusively powered that way. Compromises are needed (like the Solar Sal Devlin designs).
It seems the way to deal with this is to go large. Silent Yachts has a line of power cats that are carpeted with solar panels, and in good sunlight can cruise at 5 kts all day. I think the larger boats can cruise at 5 kts for 24 hrs, including providing hotel power. They have a generator for when the battery runs out, but the idea is to not use it.

Electric is the future.
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