Moonwave – Electric Propulsion & Hybrid System
After years of development and working close with the engineers from Torqeedo by sharing our needs and requirements for Moonwave – we now have the complete Deep Blue Hybrid System installed on board.
We had already several components before but now it’s a complete integrated system/package. By choosing the new aTorqeedo parts, we saved several hundreds of kilos of equipment and cables [big section copper cables running through the boat sum up a lot of weight] – on a fast catamaran this is definitely not neglectable.
Instead of the complicated retractable shaft system that unfortunately was very maintenance intensive and all in all a very heavy system with big engineering and power cables for the hydraulic mechanism to operate up and down – we have now two light weight electric sail drives with foldable propellors. They are self-contained for the cooling and so we have less seacocks and possible sources of leaks. And the best of all – they are performing really well. The new sail drives can be used for propulsion but also for regeneration of energy under sail. More details about the regeneration values later but we are very positively impressed by the performance so far. This is definitively a game changer.
For the new Hybrid installation, we have also changed the high voltage battery pack. No more need of individually monitoring battery cells and dismounting high voltage cables and battery packs to charge some of the cells individually as they were going out of balance. Now we have a full self-contained battery pack, originally development for the automotive industry that has been adapted/modified by Torqeedo to fit the special requirements and challenges of the marine environment.
Ok, it was a bit challenging to fit the big foot print of the battery in Moonwave but once the space allowance was found, the weight saving and performance gain are huge. And as this technology is tested, certified to very high “engineering standard”, we have years of warranty on the battery performance. As the battery technology in general is still progressing, there will also be the possibility of just switching out the battery cell packs for higher capacity ones in the future. Already within the next year, we can foresee an improvement of 30% of power density by upgrading the cell packages – and no further changes to the other installations. This gives an impression on how fast battery technology is improving – knowing that already the current installation is almost double as performing than what we had before.
The high voltage battery pack can now be either charged with the hydro-regenation, solar power, our diesel generator [as range extender] or with two shore power chargers when at the dock.
Talking about shore power chargers and other converters and inverters, they are all water cooled and state of the art.
Part of refit was also installation of a Solar array – not supplied by Torqeedo but integrated in the Hybrid installation and usage. Moonwave has had two different Hybrid systems before [yes, I told you that we were doing quiet some research and development] and the idea of using a max of renewable energy and a minimum of fossil energy was always a goal. So why did we wait until now to install solar panels? The answer is that at the time of the the original built, the technology and performances of the available solar panels were not satisfying yet Same as the battery industry, the solar cells have made huge progresses within the last years.
Now the time has come to supply Moonwave some energy from the sun. Part of the design brief was to cover the coachroof with “good” looking, walkable, light weight and performing solar cells and the installation should be integrated in a way to be able to charge our 24V house batteries and the high voltage i3 battery. We have managed to get a great looking solar coverage – like if they were part of the DNA of the boat since the beginning. No patch-work like you can find on lots of other boats.
The performances we have got so far from the solar installation are amazing. On a sunny day at sea, the solar panels are not only covering all the house loads (navigation instruments, autopilots, pumps, fridges, freezer, cooking etc.) but at the same time also charges up both battery banks (low and high voltage). The solar installation by Oliver Gochermann achieved all our requirements and it was a pleasure to work with such motivated and professional suppliers.
With the great results of hydro-regeneration and solar power – we are really going “green” this time – the diesel generator is just a back up for now and will be rarely used.
All in all, there is still a bit of tweaking on the software to be done but we know that we have the support of a big innovative company like Torqeedo behind us and they are constantly improving and implementing our comments and requirements. Very exciting times ahead with this state of the art Hybrid system…
We will share more details and pictures of the individual equipments in the future articles.
And by the way the first offshore passage of 1400 nm went without any incidences – we like it…