Prius powered canalboat

Discussion in 'Hybrid' started by Westfield 11, May 31, 2014.

  1. Westfield 11
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    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    Will a Prius generate enough power to propel a displacement hull using an electric motor via the charging port? If not can anyone suggest a hybrid car that could?

    I am wondering if one could buy a used hybrid or electric car with range extender and cannibalize it to power a canal or river boat. In the next decade we will start to see these vehicles enter the lower end of the used car market making a lot of technology available at very little cost. What is to stop an enterprising young person from aquiring a few cars worth of of batteries and a hybrid engine/generator from a wreck and hacking together a nice comfortable canal or riverboat? After all there is a long history of car engined boats: this is the same idea for the 21st century.

    If there was marina access to 240v charging one could model plugin electric cars with range extenders. Nearly every trip would be using stored battery power, but the hybrid power train would be there to takeover if needed. Today such tech is prohibitively expensive, but in a decade or two it will be showing up on used car lots and in scrapyards. We already have charging systems that will allow you to run your home off of your car during a power failure and their price will only drop in the years to come. It may all seem terribly high tech and complex to most of us today, but it won't to the next generation that grew up hacking electronic and cybernetic systems.

    An even simpler method would be to just drive your car onto your riverboat, strap it down and plug in to the charging port. Then power your electric boat using the car for propulsion and house power. If you need more power than one car can provide just have a second cars full hybrid system built into your hull permanently, or just make room for a second car onboard.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't electric motors well suited to marine use due to their torque "curve"?
     
  2. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    The power plant isn't the problem. You can buy much cheaper electric motors with plenty of power for a fraction of a used car. The problem is batteries. Even wi a stack of Prius battery packs you can't store enough energy to be meaningful for most powerboats.

    Unlike cars boats require large amounts of steady power, and there is no regeneration which is why electric boats have either been very restricted in their range, or just gimmicks.
     
  3. Westfield 11
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    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    So when the batteries run down, start the engine in the hybrid. It is just a really big genset.......
     
  4. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    You are talking about 10 minutes of use from the batteries before you turn on the engine for the rest of the day. You might as well eliminate the battery step and just run off of the engine anyway. It will save a lot of money, and a potentially dangerous voltage level.
     
  5. Westfield 11
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    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    That was the whole intent in the first place. The batteries just come along with a car with a big genset. The idea is to have an electric boat powered by a secondhand hybrid car using the cars electricity via the power port. The batteries come into play when on the hook for house loads.

    None of this is a new idea, but I am looking down the road to the time when a couple of grand will buy a used hybrid like a Prius or Volt. Heck, in 15 years even the new BMW i3 will be just another used car. Nothing loses value like old technology and most of these cars are being sold at a loss further subsidizing the the technology transfer. I am just proposing re-purposing all that multimillion dollar R&D once it comes off lease and passes to its third or fourth owner. There WILL be plugin hybrids and range extended electric cars with over 100k miles selling for dimes on the dollar in the not too distant future, why let all that tech go to waste?

    You could either keep the car as a driveable vehicle to use when not propelling the boat or get radical and build it into the boat. Take a used hybrid, unbolt the doors, suspension, interior, etc. then take a Sawzall and cut off the roof and everything that's not engine, generator and batteries. Mount the batteries and engine/generator in the engine room with the electric propulsion motor. A modern car engined boat.
     
  6. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    actually the first prius' are now selling for well under $1000 in antisipation of needing a new costly battery pack soon.

    As mentioned, there is no regeneration capablity on a boat, so the big advanage is gone. So it would seem a heavy way to get a little bit of extra range after your fuel supply has run out. the big advanage with the hybird car is in heavy traffice, you recover your lost braking energy. On highway travel they are not much better than a conventional economy car, but without the costly battery packs and the extra weight.

    Also note that the other advantage is they run both the electric motor with the engine on hard accelerations in the car, though a complicated computer controlled clutch system, so it can get by with a smaller engine, drawing from both the batteries and the fuel supply for the peak power demands. Not sure this is an advantage in a boat, since the extra weight would kill the savings from the smaller engine.

    I think a more viable, and likely less costly approach, would be use an eletric "kicker" motor, with a few extra deep cycle batteries changed from your regular gasoline or diesel motor (and perhaps a solar panel trickle charger). so when just needing to motor out of the harbor you use the electric kicker, and when more speed is necessary you start the main engine.
     
  7. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    >The batteries come into play when on the hook for house loads<.

    Today a standard set of WLA wet lead acid deep cycle batts can not be beat in terms of cost per KW used at anchor.

    A diesel engine with a used bus 24V 300A alt can operate at the speed required for the amount of charge required.

    To be really efficient most diesels need to be well loaded. 80% rated power at 90% rated RPM works.

    At displacement speeds most diesels are not working hard enough.

    With an adjustable V regulator , and EGT meter ($100.US) you could operate at your desired cruise speed , and dial in a great charge rate .

    When not underway almost all the energy of the propulsion engine could be fed to the batts.

    AS efficient as any hybrid , with 1/10 the cost and complexity.
     
  8. Westfield 11
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    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    Even when the battery packs are not useable anymore for automotive usage they still have lots of capacity. So much so that here in America, solar powerplant operators plan to install thousands of used battery packs to use as surge buffers and storage for night time. A hybrid battery with 65% capacity left is useless for a car, but has lots of power left for house batteries. And at $1000 for an entire car, who says that you only can use one? At that price you could install several, all charging off the first ones engine. The younger generation will have no difficulty hacking the software to make it all work once they set their minds to it.

    Also the Prius is not the only hybrid system out there, only the one I mentioned in my title. I am sure that there are or will be systems better suited than that one. Possibly one could even mix and match an engine/generator from one car with batteries from another. These are early days for hybrid and electric cars, wait a decade.......

    I am not sure what you mean by this being a heavy way to extend range: the batteries used in hybrids are extremely light for their capacity. Heavy and high MPG are contradictory, that's why so much alloy and plastics are being used in new cars, even the glass has gotten thinner to save a few pounds. Antique lead-acid units are heavy, not lithium-ion batteries.
     
  9. Westfield 11
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    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    Everything you say is true, TODAY. I am saying that it may not be in 10 years or so. Once these automotive systems are in wide use and beginning to fill the scrapyards the costs will be very different to those in 2014.

    In addition, what happens to your marine diesel system if you have to control emissions? You might not always get a free pass on pollution in the coming years. At the very least you will be looking at a carbon tax on dirty fuels like diesel (and coal), while the automotive based systems are already equipped with emission control systems.

    A used hybrid with worn out batteries seems like a cheap way to get a very high capacity generator compared to a marine unit of similar capacity. Given that the electric motors used in cars are in the 150 hp range and we know they make full torque at zero rpm like a steam engine such a system could replace a 125hp Lehman straight up. You could leave the hybrid batteries ashore and just use the generating system from the car along with a suitable electric motor from another car if you were enamored with your lead-acid house batteries.
     
  10. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    I know of someone who bought a used Prius in perfectly good condition for $300 (scrap value) because the owner was told it will be needing a new battery soon. I know of another that sold for $600. so when I say under $1000, I mean way under. the new owners were thrilled to buy a good running car for so little, and so far the batteries have been working fine.

    Using the batteries and equipment for stationary use is an excellent application for this kind of used equipment since weight or volume is not an issue.

    what I mean by "extending the range a little" is that most boats are used at constant speed to get to a destination, except when arriving or returning. Since there would be no advantage using the hybrid system the only benefit would be you can run off the battery after you run out of fuel. It would be far more efficient to just carry the extra fuel, ditch the big battery and the big generator, and the electric motor, the clutches and the controller. Hybrid cars get their advantage by two issues, one is you recover some of your energy in stop and go traffic, and you can run a smaller motor at a more constant speed (in a narrow efficiency window) to get slightly higher efficiency. A small motor running at near it max power output is more efficient fuel wise than a larger motor running at part throttle. You need the larger motor so you can climb hills and accelerate into traffic in a car, so that is when you use both the gasoline engine and the electric motor to compensate for the too small of an engine (not sure how that would work on a long up climb). Neither of these are a concern in a boat, so the big costly batteries, the big generator, the clutch and controller have limited usefulness. A small diesel motor is a MUCH simpler way to go, with extra fuel capacity you have all the range you need. If you want to motor in and out of the harbor in silence, use an electric kicker motor until you get out of the harbor.
     

  11. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Clean diesel standards are already here and clean diesel technology has been in the fleet (both recreational and commercial) for at least 5 years. On boats diesels aren't constantly changing rpms like in cars. They spend most of their time running at constant rpms usually at the higher end of the rpm range where they are most efficient and least dirty. see http://www.epa.gov/otaq/marine.htm Other than being diesels their operation on boats and ships bears little relationship to their use in cars and trucks.

    Also there have been some experiments with hybrid diesel electric systems (actually diesel electric systems have been around for generations -- no pun intended) and they have been found to be not very efficient on small vessels. On large ships (and trains for that matter) they have been very effective.
     
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