Hybrid Propulsion System

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Charlie Avalos, Feb 19, 2022.

  1. Charlie Avalos
    Joined: Feb 2022
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    Charlie Avalos New Member

    Has anyone tried solid state battery technology employed in the keel of a boat or ship to add ballast and also provide electrical power for propulsion? The batteries can be used to power electrical motors installed in parallel with diesel engines for extended range and fuel economy. There are certain properties in solid state batteries, recently discovered by John Goodenough (inventor of Li-Ion battery), which makes the technology attractive for this application. It has better energy density, can be cut or damaged and will still produce some power, safer than conventional lithium ion batteries, can be charged quicker and has better range. Imagine the impact it can make if it is employed in commercial freighter ships, recreation trawler boats, ferries, etc.
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  2. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Batteries have been used to ballast electric vessels since lead-acid cells were introduced just prior to the 20th century, see the history of Elco or GD/EBC. Commercially, using on-board charging, hybrid provides no advantage; it is too wasteful in terms of space, weight, and cost. And yes, I could imagine the huge additional cost impact to consumers if social changes force hybrid on commercial cargo and ferries. There is a very small niche where point charging would improve overall environmental and engineering performance; and there is the social snob recreational market. But on the whole, all a hybrid system like this would do would push up environmental costs, while adding failure paths.
    I say this not because I am unfamiliar with hybrid systems, but because I am over-familiar with 1+MW Li-ion systems. Even using glass cells, if found technologically viable, the damage control restrictions for Li-based batteries rule them out except for the most necessary manned marine propulsion situations.
  3. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

    Batteries, even lead ones, have poor volumetric efficiency as ballast. Lithium based types are the worst, since lithium is about as heavy as douglas fir.
    Hybrid systems only make sense in certain niche applications where you can use on board renewable energy sources. Freighters, trawlers and ferries are certainly not on the list, a sailboat might be under certain circumstances.
  4. DogCavalry
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    DogCavalry Soy Soylent Green: I can't believe it's not people

    I'm with @jehardiman and @Rumars on this one. Hybrid systems work well in city driving, because city driven vehicles change their energy demand several times a minute, and regenerative braking happens hundreds of times an hour. Ships ideally go to their cruising speed, and stay there until journey's end. Under those conditions, the entire electrical side of of a hybrid system is parasitic weight, that causes the ship to burn extra fuel, not less, and had a harsh environmental cost to produce as well. Very harmful to the environment.
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  5. fredrosse
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    fredrosse USACE Steam

    "......power electrical motors installed in parallel with diesel engines for extended range and fuel economy"
    What nonsense. Taking the space and weight of the batteries, motors and electric propulsion system, and replace it with extra Diesel fuel capacity, and one can go much further than any range extension attributed to the battery system. What about the Diesel fuel cost?, do the numbers and see that the money that would have been spent for the electric system, and see how many extra miles one could travel before the electric system funds were depleted. Forever/never with a real analysis.

    And this is from a guy (me) who has had an electric boat since 2004, worked with electric boats since the 1960s (submarines), and spent over 40 years in the electric generation industry. I enjoy my electric boat with its silent runnng at displacement speeds, but lets not kid anyone about how they are practical range extenders for a Diesel powered boat.
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  6. alan craig
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    alan craig Senior Member

    I agree with just about all above. I mess around with electric boats; the relative density of my lead acid batteries was about 2.3 but once installed with room for cable and a clamping system this comes down to not much more than 1, so not much better as ballast than water. Now that I've changed to Li-ion I don't really have to worry about battery weight (in a 14ft boat).
    I spoke to a hirer of electric dayboats which use deep cycle lead acid, the batteries last for decades but are charged every working day so they are fine for that purpose. On the other hand I have cordless tool Li-ion batteries which are 12 years old now; I leave them gathering dust until I need to make some more dust, they work just fine every time and get charged only when they stop due to low voltage cut off.
    There are hundreds of electric boats out there but I believe none of them are long range.
  7. portacruise
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    portacruise Senior Member

    JMHO, but 100% Electric boats powered by renewable energy fuel cells might be the way to go eventually- instead of any form of stinkpot, including hybrid, haha... I don't see any reason why Massive battery Banks would be needed when using fuel cells. Of course, we're not there at the present time in terms of the technology, and some other factors including cost of that technology and fuel. Fast recharging large battery Banks might make sense in Niche situations like short-range ferries, if the grid power recharging cost is below the cost of other fuels and because environmental, maintenance, as well as other factors come into play..
  8. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    First of all, "renewable energy" is a political catch word. Energy can't be created or destructed, only transformed. The most direct way of using "solar energy" is with sails. Storing energy, and the cost of doing it, is where different technologies diverge. The cheapest and most energy dense form of stored solar energy is in fossil fuels. The second is in charcoal from wood. Technology impact on the environment has to be considered from cradle to grave to make an honest comparison. For example, Lead/acid batteries are easily and completely recyclable. Recycling Li Ion batteries would cost more than the current selling price. Most Li Ion batteries end up in a landfill. Fuel cells are already in the market and is a proven technology. However, there will have to be hydrogen supply points available to make it viable for widespread use. Also, as the Hindenburg showed, it needs to be handled carefully.
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  9. portacruise
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    portacruise Senior Member

    First of all, you are one of my favorite writers! Thanks for your post, Gonzo!

    My comments were not intended to be political- is short-term "recycled biomass" more acceptable, or how should it be said? Contrasted to long-term legacy fossil fuels which only become recycled after maybe many thousands of years, both categories using solar energy (fusion) as the original source? Myself don't think "solar energy" quite fits when you're addressing only specifically the fuel concept...

    I think just about all energy is derived from solar, often wonder if fission and geothermal indirectly derived from solar as well- what do you think?

    I agree that cradle-to-grave considerations are important, and we're realizing more of the "grave" part consequences from fossil fuels, all the time. Climate change, cost of hospitalization/ deaths due to FF increased pollution,, etc. (assuming someone believes in it, or is it fake news) should be part of the cost for a gallon of medium term cheap gasoline oversupply? We need to save rapidly depleting fossil fuel deposits for the unique extreme value added products it produces, like Pharmaceuticals, Plastics, lubricants, etc. IMHO.

    Lithium metal is priced higher than lead and has a considerably longer life when used in batteries, so I assume it doesn't create as much waste, and it's just a matter of time before it is profitably recycled. In the meantime, some lithium will go into landfills for a shorter period of time, compared to lead's decades when forced mandates required something be done about the cleanup.

    I don't think the existing fuel cell technology can come close to competing on a cost level with fossil fuels for at least the next decade or so. Until a cheap the source of hydrogen can be developed, fuel cells can run on fossil fuels without producing the nitrogen oxides or heat pollutants. The richest FF source being methane CH4, which is 25% hydrogen, better than flaring it, as some energy companies do.

    Hope this helps.
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  10. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    due to fact they can't really be repaired to "good as new" even in minor fender bender, you can buy a nearly new (under 20K miles) Prius Prime with minor body damage for under $4K. Might be a bit tricky to make in boat legal with water jacket exhaust etc but still seems like a bargain, and extra Traction Batts are $1000 on Ebay.
    I've heard mostly really bad things about "custom" hybrid boats about lack of INTEGRATION of the systems and diff vendors blaming each other with owner in the middle. If there is one thing a Toyota hybrid is is nicely integrated. There is an after market add on for fully self driving that puts a robot in control of throttle, steering, brakes and few other things, so the systems are at least somewhat hackable.
  11. DogCavalry
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    DogCavalry Soy Soylent Green: I can't believe it's not people

    I take it you didn't read any of the previous posts. "Integration" is irrelevant to the OP's question. Hybrids aren't a feasible possibility in the described application. The laws of physics don't allow it.
  12. Flotation
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    Flotation Senior Member

    It all depends on the usage scenario. Ships on a long routes with a constant power consumption - no efficiency gains.

    Tugboats with power needs varying almost constantly - proven efficiency gains are possible:

    Hybrid tugs https://www.man-es.com/marine/products/hybrid-propulsion-for-tugs

    And in this hybrid fishing vessel example with a 500 kWh battery pack for peak power usage:

    VESSEL REVIEW | Libas – Hybrid seiner/trawler delivered to Norway’s Liegruppen - Baird Maritime https://www.bairdmaritime.com/fishing-boat-world/trawling/vessel-review-libas-hybrid-seiner-trawler-delivered-to-norways-liegruppen/

    A pure electric inland freighter is already being build, it uses the same container on and offloading infrastructure they use for their cargo to swap containerized battery packs:

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  13. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    @portacruise: I didn't mean that your post was political. Rather that the term "renewable energy" is a misleading political term.
  14. DogCavalry
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    DogCavalry Soy Soylent Green: I can't believe it's not people

    @Charlie Avalos , I'm sorry your first post didn't get the response you'd hoped for. We actually talk about this sort of thing constantly, and there's a wealth of knowledge in this forum. If you really want to learn about these systems, the forum is a good place to start.

  15. Howlandwoodworks
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    Howlandwoodworks Member

    Good to have you here.
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