The Future of Boatbuilding - page 3
By Capt. Bill Pike
Because the future of marine propulsion fascinates Jendro almost as much as the future of boatbuilding, he’s got one more wrinkle on his mind these days. He wants to wheedle a marine generator out of QM Power, a small Missouri-based company that’s got exclusive, big-time contracts with the military, NASA, the Department of Energy, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and several other forward-leaning governmental entities. Thanks to “Parallel Path Magnetic Technology” patented by R&D engineer and QM vice president Joe Flynn, QM is reportedly fielding generators with twice the power density of conventional models. Moreover, because these gensets vary their rpm precisely and rapidly with load, they are also supposedly radically efficient.
“There’s absolutely nothing I’d like to see more,” says Jendro, “than a diesel-hybrid version of one of the prettiest yachts afloat today—our Marquis 63. And QM Power’s the key—their technology is going to redefine what we all think electricity is capable of.”
There’s another hybrid booster on the marine scene these days that’s just as pumped as Jendro—Northern Lights. Indeed, the venerable manufacturer of durable, long-lasting Lugger diesels and marine generators is currently installing two new, series-type hybrid powerplants in a 65-foot catamaran that will soon see service as a school/research vessel on Long Island Sound. Not only is the hybrid-driven vessel expected to be exceptionally efficient and quiet, she’s also expected to post a reduced emissions profile and proffer an eco-friendly image, particularly to the school children who will constitute her primary ridership.
“Being a cat, she has two separate hybrid propulsion units in two separate engine rooms,” explains Colin Puckett, marketing director for Northern Lights, “and each one features a Lugger diesel that essentially serves as a giant battery charger, in addition to a super-sophisticated energy management system, a bank of highly advanced Energy Storage Modules from Corvus Energy (with up to 10 times the capacity and power of normal marine batteries, but only one-fourth the weight), and an electric traction motor which actually turns the prop.”
The system’s got serious advantages. For starters, there are no restrictions on the placement of most of its modular components—because only the traction motor needs to be lined up with the props, everything else can be installed virtually anywhere in the engine room in total accord with design, performance, and spatial considerations. Then too, there’s the fuel-curve optimization thing—since the Lugger is doing duty as a genset only, it can be continually operated at its optimum rpm, a virtue that minimizes fuel burn and obviates dry stacking and other underloading issues. And finally, dealing with hotel loads is simpler and more economical—in addition to propulsion, the battery bank (and its big Lugger battery charger) can cleanly and efficiently handle thrusters, stabilizers, lights, air-conditioning, and all other electrics onboard. No extra gensets are needed.
“We did lots of careful R&D before we decided to put our name on this thing,” concludes Puckett. “And we partnered with BAE (a globally recognized manufacturer of hybrids and hybrid control systems) for most of the modular components involved because BAE’s already vetted everything on city buses all over the world—the system’s got more than 25 million miles on it in New York City alone. So yes, we’re convinced—hybrids are the wave of the future.”