Diesel-Electric Hybrid Charter Superyacht Development Project

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by brian eiland, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    The Next Giant Leap Beyond Diesel-Electric
    Dramatic Energy Cost Savings to the Marine Industry

    EnergyTech Marine 83 foot HD-X super yacht

    Arc Lite Power is now offering its new Pulse Buffering Power Core. It is a unique new power system for a wide range of applications that consume power. It comes in various sizes with applications for small things such as motor homes or houses to large things like 200’ marine vessels. It is especially applicable to luxury yachts and workboats. The Power Core replaces all of the standard marine propulsion diesels, generator sets, and lead acid battery banks. It converts a vessel to all-electric and provides the power to perform all work aboard the vessel.

    This system is the next giant leap beyond diesel-electric. It performs many functions that diesel-electric does not. In principle, it operates very differently. Some common missions can be performed at staggering efficiency increases. Cost efficiencies of hundreds of percent of are offered. The Power Core can save larger work vessels millions in fuel over its product lifetime. In almost any vessel, its net cost is free. It saves more in fuel costs than its initial price.

    The Arc Lite Power Core system is being offered in the new EnergyTech Marine 83 foot HD-X super yacht. The vessel has been in extended testing and development and is nearing completion. It was designed from the ground up to be an advanced energy system electric yacht. It was originally planned to be diesel-electric but EnergyTech Marine Group and Arc Lite Power co-developed the much more advanced Power Core system which offers dramatically improved performance. The new vessel is far enough into sea trials to be able to report some of the efficiency gains over and above standard direct-coupled diesel installations, as well as diesel-electric. Compared to either of those systems, the efficiency improvement of the Power Core is substantially higher.....(cont)

    ...and some subheadings

    Pulse Buffering Power Core™ (how converting all energy to stored ions before using it improves efficiency)

    New Regeneration (how to measure potential available regeneration energy in kilowatt hours)

    Operational Advantages Of Regeneration (cost of supplementing with wind power to outperform motoryachts)

    Hybrid Regeneration Sailing (how much farther can you travel on wind power by converting it to electricity first?)

    Ten Hour Outing (motoring efficiency comparison only, no sails)

    Typical Weekend Outing (motoring efficiency comparison only, no sails)

    ...their website:

    WARNING: Be prepared to wade through a lot of material presentation.

    This vessel project was brought to my attention by way of an article in the recent Apr/May issue of Professional Boatbuilder. The article was entitled "the Real McCoy". For those who care to sign up for a subscription you can access the digital issue of the magazine HERE. This article might be easier reading than the entirety of their website.

    So what do you think??
  2. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Very interesting and a ambitious project. Thanks for the hint!
  3. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    ...from a gentleman on a 'passagemaker under power' forum

    After reading the 13 page web site I learned a few things. Although the advertising copy is written in an exaggerated style that makes me ill to read it, the web site applies some good science it is description. After 13 pages to tell us how great the "new Pulse Buffering Power Core" is they never really get to the obvious comparison that could be formed as to how much better it is in any real measureable way.
    The words run on endlessly but the facts never some to the surface.

    My conclusion would be that in some specialized applications where power could be drawn from a large dock side 230V outlet or some other source of inexpensive power it should be a winner, or if the demands are a pulse type requirement to run the microwave, but for the PUP group where the passages are long and the sources of large energy supply don't exist it will be difficult to justify the equipment cost and complexity based on the small fuel savings that will result.

    Hopefully, we will see an article that accurately quantifies the savings but don't hold your breathe given the desire for advertizing hyperbole that the authors have shown.

    John Harris
    Sea Saga 35'
    and a PhD in Engineering
  4. Landlubber
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    Thanks Brian, interesting reading, I tend to believe that it is possible and about time, that tiny battery starting the truck motor....look outside the square eh....

    Here's to the new battery systems, now all we need to do is charge the buggers.......and therein lies a problem.
  5. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member


    Thanks for your review, it makes good reading and has good ideas. I think you also, are skeptical about all the equipment and complexity suggested in the original ideas.

    I suspect that the author has never made a long journey by boat where
    complexity comes at a large price of frustration - especially in foreign
    ports where parts are hard to find for even the simple systems.

    Thanks again for sharing, Regards, John Harris

    Brian noted: I will add my initial review of the Proboat article soon. I've also received some email responses from the builder that I've not had time to review.
  6. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    I'm always amazed that no diesel gurus step up to critique these sorts of claims. I suspect the reason that 200 foot is given as an upper bound for this system is that the cost differencial is no longer supported by the increased efficiency. I bet if you took an identical budget to a marine diesel manufacturer and told them you didn't mind if the product ended up costing twice as much and weighing twice as much so long as it was as fuel efficient as possible, they could lower that crossover point a great deal. And I bet they will when there is a market for it. I have serious doubts about the fuel consumption numbers of the diesel boat used for comparison. (And the conclusions are rather sensitive to those numbers.) I also noted that they assumed that the diesel boat would have a full sized redundant generator installed. Is that how they managed to claim a smaller footprint and comparable weight? Having said all that, I wish them the best of luck. I certainly would like to see the results of their testing.

    Come on diesel gurus - Tell us what you could bring to the table in the 100-500 hp range with fuel economy as top priority.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  7. Landlubber
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    phil, Basically all diesel engines burn the same amount of fuel per given hp, there is very little difference in real output figures.
  8. plebusmaximus
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    plebusmaximus Junior Member

    It would be interesting to see a diesel-electric house boat with some solar panels on top to assist?
  9. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    No it would´nt. The price for a PV panel of some quality is still 3 - 4 $ per watt. Let alone the rest of the stuff needed.
    But I have to agree that if such installation can be made sensible, that it is easier on a houseboat with the huge area of PV panels that are possible to install.
  10. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    But the proposed arrangement claims a nine-fold increase in fuel economy (not efficiency) under certain (somewhat contrived) conditions. I agree that current off the shelf diesels are very similar, but that wasn't what I was asking. I suspect you could replace the supercaps and mysterious Lion battery variant with more available tech. And this is what should be used for comparison with the proposed vessel.

    Comparing a high capital/low lifecycle cost system to a low capital/high life cycle cost sytem is NOT a tech comparison- it is a marketing or pyscology study. To compare tech properly the existing tech should be allowed an initial capital base as large as the new tech.

    Lest I sound like I'm slamming these guys too hard, I'd like to say that of all the Hybrid boat project sites I've visited on the web, This one and OSSA's are two of the best. There is enough info to compare their tech to an application of my own choosing and get some kind of meaningful result. And that is a huge step forward.

    If anyone is interested, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln has been testing small diesels for about 60 years using the same test method and all results are available on the web. It includes some part throttle data which can be difficult to get. The best fuel economy I found for a 40 hp diesel was from a Cottsworth circa 1957. (no, I did't look at all of the reports). I'm sticking with my hunch that the existing art can achieve a large fuel economy improvement if the budget was there.
  11. dreamer
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    dreamer Soñadora

    This has been circulating for about a year now. Very interesting. However, the main take-away from this is that size matters.

    I contacted the guy from Energytech a few months ago to see if something like this would be feasible in a 40'-50' er. His brief reply was 'not likely'.

    Note that at the heart of this is the battery technology (along with the supercpacapitor/ultracapacitor).

    True Diesel/Electric (think train locomotives - no batteries) are not any more efficient than direct-drive diesels.
  12. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    I have received several responses via email from the the builder, Jack McCoy. Some are direct responses to my initial letter to him and the Proboat article author Nigel Calder, and some are brand new versions (updates) of the hybrid papers. I'm going to try and encourage Mr McCoy to join directly in these discussions, and submit his latest material, in lieu of my posting his responses.

    In order to put the discussions into perspective, I thought it might be a good idea to put the discussions into sequence as they occurred. The original article in ProBoat magazine is what triggered my original reply letter to the magazine and Mr McCoy. So here is a reference to that original article and my letter:

    In the recent Apr/May issue of Professional Boatbuilder there was an article entitled, The Real McCoy, and dealing with the development of:
    ..a Hybrid Diesel-Electric Charter Vessel
    (in the header of that page, click on "Contents", then look down list to "The Real McCoy" article, click and the article should be displayed)

    Here is my letter in response to that article:
    Dear Mr Nigel Calder & Mr Jack McCoy

    Let me begin by complimenting Mr McCoy on his pioneering spirit. He appears willing to embrace whatever new technologies he might, to make a success of his goal of the “most efficient boat in its class” of luxury charter vessels.

    His project and its overall objective is of interest to me as I’ve been a long term advocate of ‘motorsailers’ for cruising the world. I have a few alternate ideas to add to the equation, but first I must ask a few questions that remain questionable in my mind after reading and rereading the article in Professional Boatbuilder magazine.

    1) How many engines and/or generators are to be utilized in his plan?

    a) On page 40, I see this quote, “soon he’ll install the sailing rig and regenerative turbines, and connect the diesels to 600-kW generators”. The words diesels and generators are both plural. Is there to be more than one of each??

    b) On page 41, “the choice of powering the boat and systems off the generator or stored energy”, would suggest a single powered unit ??

    c) On page 48, “at those times , a 600-kw backup generator will supply energy.” The word backup would infer there was another generator ?? I wonder about calling something a ‘backup’ when it will be the major source of power when cruising ?? (the battery banks are not going to last long when making way at anything faster than hull speed, which is far less than the optimum speed for most waterjet propulsion systems.)

    d) On page 49, “and when the diesel-driven generators are needed for propulsion the engines will operate far more efficiently….” suggesting a plurality again ??

    e) On page 51, “the permanent-magnet AC machines can be employed as generators driven by diesel engines, and as electric motors powered by the generators and/or the power core.” Again some confusion in the plurality terminology. And why would he need to utilize a motor/generator unit to drive the jet drives when these would not function backward as generators driven by the jet drives??

    In summation, I believe he intends to utilize one single diesel/generator power unit, but it is a little unclear considering these other statements in the article.

    2) Stored electrical energy
    The general impression I’m left with is that he is abandoning the ‘serial diesel-electric’ boat in favor of the hybrid by substituting the ‘energy storage methods’ of both lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors for the simpler arrangement of one or two diesel-electric generator sets. He can then run his single diesel/gen set in spurts rather than constantly.

    But I ask at what price,.....and great deal of complication??
    a) Li-Ion Batteries
    b) Supercapacitors
    c) Jet Drives (two)
    d) Regeneration Turbines (two)

    e) Redesign of the underbody to accommodate the jet drives
    f) Extra space and weight of the water chambers associated with jet drives
    g) Water chambers for regeneration turbines
    h) Redesign of underbody to accommodate the turbines
    j) Displacement type hull to carry the sailing rig (thus lower performance & requiring more driving power)

    I imagine he will have to have a full-time electrical engineer on board to keep this charter vessel operating. I look at all of this electric energy flowing around between the various components (Li-ion batteries, supercaps, turbine chargers, electric motors for jets, junction boxes), and quotes such as ‘extremely complicating cell balancing’, ‘computer-controlled charging/discharging’, and problems with all of this electrical componentry in a salt water environment, and it gives me nightmares.

    Plus he only has one real dependable power source on the vessel, the single 600W diesel/gen….not even a backup diesel motor? (excluding the sailing rig)

    I think one of the real bottlenecks here is ‘electrical energy storage’ as is noted on page 43. This is a problem we have faced for many years now, and one that we really must work on in this modern era. We desperately need ‘effective electrical energy storage devices'! I followed for years the idea of storing energy in a spinning flywheel, progressing to ‘superflywheels’. I even still believe this idea has some merits. But now I’m trying to follow these supercapacitor developments. This article tends to write-off the supercaps/ ultracaps ideas as ineffective for anything other than short time storage devices. Is this true across the board?? I’m not an electrical technician, so I’m not sure. I’m interested in the EEStor idea and its combination with nano-technology to produce light-weight, inexpensive, hi-energy storage capacity units.

    Hopefully in the next few years we will be getting much closer to effective electrical energy storage for our cars, our energy grid, solar possibilities, etc, etc.

    Then Mr McCoy could at least get rid of the duplication of Li-ion batteries, supercapacitors, and Arc-Lite batteries together…simpliflying things hopefully. [Let me clarify, that I don’t mean to dissuade him from his development with his Arc-Lite battery technology. ALL experimentation in these storage technologies is to be encouraged to the greatest degree, and it appears he has some very positive contributions to make]

    3) Regeneration Energy Sources
    Here’s the problem I have with this concept as related to boats. In automobiles we know we need to constantly use the brakes at times to slow down…and in buses, and trains, and so on.

    BUT on boats why would we want to ‘put the brakes on’ ?? in almost all cases we try to reduce our drag thru the water for more efficient operation. Why do we want to put a drag producing fixture into the water that will not produce as much energy as the energy we need to consume to drag it thru the water?? Doesn’t make sense to me….regeneration on boats.

    Then he adds a sailing rig to this vessel. As previously noted I’m all for motorsailers, but lets consider this application on this hybrid vessel plan. On this monohull vessel, a sailing rig will require an off-setting ballasted keel. This adds considerable weight to the vessel, extra water surface area drag, extra displacement vessel drag, and extra windage drag. And then he wishes to develop regeneration charging for the batteries by way of underwater “hydro-electric turbines” encapsulated in fumes bonded into the hulls. This all adds up to one heck of a lot of drag on the vessel he is trying to power with ‘free wind’. He will need a lot of free wind to accomplish this, and regrettable winds are generally not so accommodating or forceful enough on average to make this really viable.

    He speaks of relying on the two 20KW hydro-turbines to operate at full power at around 10 knots of boat speed. Remember 10kts of boat speed is at the upper limits for this 83 foot overall length displacement vessel. So he needs to be operating at the upper limits of his hull speed, and frankly that speed likely won’t be attainable on average that long or often. His customer’s desires for ‘tight schedules’, ‘specific times and places regardless of weather’, and higher speeds than 10kts will likely not be attainable.

    In summation he has spent a lot of money on ‘wind power’ for this vessel, both directly for propulsion via the added sailing rig, and to extract regeneration power for battery charging via the hydro-turbines, while only attaining questionable results:
    1) Cost of the sailing rig itself.
    2) Increased weight & draft of the vessel to support the sailing rig.
    3) Cost and space for the hydro-turbines to regenerate energy.
    4) Extra cost and weight associated with the jet drives to decrease drag under sail

    Alternative Proposal
    If I were working on this project to develop this really energy efficient charter vessel (and I would like to be), I’d be looking at a vessel akin to the one I made reference to in a Boatdesign forum posting titled “New Age Trawler, Kite-Assisted Powerboat

    Rather than moving toward a heavier, displacement vessel with restrictive hull speed, this vessel proposal incorporates a slender central hull, a ‘stabilized monohull’ concept, that would take less energy to propel. I would try to make use of a single ‘rim-driven propulsion unit’ that might, or might not, be retractable into the hull. The blades of this electrical rim drive might be adjustable to provide max drive, feathered for min-drag, or reversed to become a hydro-turbine generator if so desired (it is electrically driven, and can be reversed into a turbine generator if so desired). The point being that there would be a SINGLE propulsor in lieu of two jets and two hydro-turbines…much less complicated and much less expensive, and not requiring the significant custom modifications to the underwater hull shape(s). It could be rotate-able so not as to require two for maneuverability. And then supplemented by a small retractable electric thruster unit up in the bow area.

    If the thought of this Rim-Drive Propulsion is considered to far off in the future, then drop back and consider the vertical finned, Cycloidal propulsion units that already exist very successfully on many tug boats.

    Attached Files:

  13. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    Power Core & Its Contents


    I am preparing a response to your detailed email concerning our hybrid ion propulsion system. There have been numerous technical updates to our system since Nigel Calder's writing of the Professional Boatbuilder article last October. The most significant breakthroughs are encompassed in the measurements of the available kinetic energy in the water flow available to the twin reaction turbines. The system promises to increase average speed and distance achieved from wind power rather than only slowing the vessel by inducing the drag.

    It is going to be more efficient to convert wind energy to electricity before it is used for propulsion than to simply waste most of it waiting around for it to blow the vessel about on the water. See the different papers on the subject of regeneration on the home page of our web site at energytechmarin.com.

    Your questions concerning the plurality of the generators are answered in the block diagram on page 45 of the Professional Boatbuilder article. It shows that the vessel has one power system called a Power Core. It contains two diesels and two generator/industrial alternators and two hydroelectric reaction turbines and so on.

    All energy is converted to stored ions before use. They are charged into the lithium-ion batteries or the supercapacitors and then delivered as needed. This of course makes the vessel a "serial hybrid". It is not diesel electric.

    More to come.

    Jack McCoy
    CEO EnergyTech Marine

    Attached Files:

  14. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    A letter from Jack McCoy

    Obviously Mr McCoy has not chosen to participate directly in our discussions here, so I will just add a few additional emails he has sent to me, and specifically stated, "Feel free to use this correspondence in your forum discussions".

    We have published our initial findings from our regeneration tests. You said that you have started wading through the papers on our web site. I will preview our findings concerning regeneration possibilities.

    I know it is tedious reading but our horizontal axis reaction turbine empirical test results lead us to a startling conclusion which we offer in three papers on the subject on the home page of our web site.

    "Quit wasting the wind energy in your sails by just using it to inefficiently blow you around on the water".

    We have completed in water drag tests with our reaction turbine models and measured the kW of kinetic energy captured by the openings in our nacelles. True horizontal axis reaction turbines capture much more energy than the jet drives. A reaction turbine must be entirely encapsulated, as in our design, to work. The energy capture is dramatically more than dragging a prop in the water. There is negligible tip loss and such.

    We know that this is bound to be extremely controversial but the results are so clear that we are going to go with it. Simply, the findings are that "if you want to go farther at a higher average speed with sail power you should first convert most of the energy to electricity before using it". This is based on a 1/3 regeneration efficiency conversion even though 65% efficiency in reaction turbines is common and is our target.

    The papers deal with the net energy conversion and speed/distance increases at a full range of wind velocities. The trade off is between how much speed you lose from the drag produced by the energy skimming vs. how far you can power with electricity at a chosen velocity with that same captured energy (after losses) when the wind is calmer.

    We have adopted the phrase "speed-shaving" for harvesting the peak energy off of your sailing velocity. We have adopted the term "energy-smoothing" for the process of redistributing the wind energy at a later time in the form of electric motor propulsion power.

    The first paper deals with substantiating the amount of power that is being supplied by sails at different hull speeds and is available to be converted to electrical energy. The second deals with the economies of implementing the sails as an electric energy generator while conducting an identical speed and distance mission to a comparable motoryacht (not just as a motorsailer, but by converting most of the wind energy to electricity and then "electric" motoring with it). The third paper deals with using the wind in a sailboat mission. It explains how much farther and faster you can travel with wind power by converting much or most of it to electricity before using it to produce thrust.

    The breakthrough of our system is that we can choose, by throttling the intake of the turbines, the exact amount of speed that we are willing to trade-off for the stored electrical charge. Amazingly we we can capture the energy, for instance, to make the last single knot at a velocity of 11 knots without effecting the power being absorbed to achieve the first 10 knots.

    We are saying that you can trade that 11th knot (one nautical mile at a speed of one knot) for enough net energy stored in our Power Core to propel the vessel with the electric motors (after losses) for 13.04 miles at five knots when the wind isn't blowing. That is 13.04 (1,304%) times as far at five times the velocity. The papers display our findings that you are ahead of the game by speed shaving all the way down to five knots, not just at higher speeds.

    Speed-shaving and energy-smoothing can result in a huge increase in distance and average speed for sailboats.

    We have not published the plans of how to build our regeneration system in that it appears that some aspects may be patentable. The papers only deal with the precise energy and power measurements conducted with our prototype hull and systems.

    We are ready for the debate. We know that most sailors will find this to be preposterous. This is because few people have ever stopped to consider the vast exponential amount of power being absorbed by each incremental knot of velocity increase of a displacement hull vessel. We are not aware that anyone has ever invented a device capable of skimming off the incremental energy contained in just a given precise measured amount of peak velocity. It may just be that no one has bothered because there would have been little practical use for such a device without the capacity of our very large hybrid ion storage system.

    We know alternative energy is a large part of the strategy for achieving the efficiency goals for hybrid designs. This new breakthrough could help move the meter over the top.

    Jack McCoy

    Brian's Note: I took the liberty to underline a few portions of the text for emphasis and to possible revisit.

  15. Sundiver2000
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    Sundiver2000 Junior Member


    I wouldn't say that. Convoluted maybe. I'm curious if there is some possibility of infringement of David Tether's patent #5,863,228, the basis of Solomon Technologies' STI drives?

    It seems so much simpler to use a controllable pitch propeller driving/driven by a motor/generator. Would that not also accomplish "speed shaving" control and and "energy smoothing"? With a much lower weight and complexity penalty?

    EEstor would of course change everything. Can't wait!

    It also seems to me that the first order of business would be to start with the most efficient sailing platform, a modern sailing cat.
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