Sustainability: High Tech Solution for the IMOCA 60 Maliza

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Doug Lord, Mar 27, 2019.

  1. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

  2. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    The really interesting thing would be, and I'm saying it seriously, to know where the high techno-technology of these new solar panels is because the photoelectric cells have been used for a long time.
     
  3. Dejay
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    Dejay Senior Newbie

    Good question, if I understand you correctly.
    Here is their price list in case you didn't see. Their SP Series reaches 177 W/m²

    I think one step to improve efficiency was simply to have more leads through the solar cell to avoid voltage drop compared to few single leads. LG calls theirs "black cello".
    Also to remove the leads from the front of the solar panel so you don't have obstructions for the light. LG NeonR reaches 214W/m²
    The third thing is Bifacial that increases efficiency by using light from the backside that is bounced off of the (ideally reflective) ground. Bifacial panels look beautiful as a see-through roof too. LG Neon 2 bifacial reaches 231W/m² which might be reachable above a white bridge deck.

    I wonder if there will be one day have a kind of "photovoltaic cloth" that you can just laminate in a mold just like fiberglass. I know the flexible solar panels are laminated together flat in a relatively low tech process. It's apparently also possible to print PV surfaces (0.2 micrometers) but not quite ready. Here is a TED talk about this.
     
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  4. OzFred
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    OzFred Senior Member

    That's a red herring. The claims of "zero emissions" don't seem to consider the construction and ultimate disposal of the boat, solar panels or lithium iron battery. Solar panels don't last forever and generally end up in landfill after about 10 years. Even the best ones only last for 20 to 30 years. Offshore carbon fibre racing boats such as the IMOCAs tend to have a much shorter lifespan. Where do the old boats go to die? How recyclable are they?
     
  5. Dejay
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    Dejay Senior Newbie

    Well then nothing at all is "zero emissions".

    I think emissions for production of solar panels and fiberglass and epoxy and things can or should be taken care at the point of production in a more efficient manner. Energy needed to produce could come from sustainable "zero emissions" energy sources. Same goes for recycling, you should recycle what you can, although solar panels are mostly glass and a bit of copper I think. Plastic can be burned for energy and emissions captured. Basically anything you buy should include the price to offset those emissions. This is "just" an economic problem.

    What remains after that is creating good designs that minimize emissions while in use and don't force us to live like monks.
     
  6. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    It does seem like arrant hypocrisy to claim that a new ocean racer is anything but a huge use of un-renewable resources. If they want to improve sustainability, which is great, by far the best way to start is to NOT build a new development-class ocean racer.

    They could have got an existing boat; built a smaller boat; built a one design; or built a boat that in the future could be a cruising home. None of those are "living like monks".
     
  7. Dejay
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    Dejay Senior Newbie

    Are composites fundamentally non-renewable? I would guess it's only a question of economics, energy and necessity. Overall we have enough oil for plastics. They also apparently do mean it about helping research so it's possible they also mean it about education and promotion for sustainability. They also mention here "low carbon footprint due to material mix and local manufacturing (Italy)". I know it sounds like marketing fluff but it seems an attempt was made.

    My point is that systemic changes on a global scale need to be made. Individual action won't help and this little racing sailboat that is trying to be more eco friendly is just not the problem. Overall this probably has a pretty low CO2 balance even just over one or two years. Compared to the emission cost of western lifestyles they'll be living like monks ;)

    So I don't think it's quite fair to say it's hypocritical.

    BTW could a boat like that work as a cruising home?
     
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  8. Doug Lord
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  9. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Even if the composites are renewable, what is the environmental impact of getting them out of the ground, shipping them across the world, then cutting them up after the boat has had what is probably going to be a fairly short useful life? It's a 60 foot boat, it's going to churn through sails that are also made from petro chemicals shipped around the world.

    I have no expertise at all in this area, but Googling seems to indicate that a 368kg carbon airliner wing section produces 17 tons of greenhouse gas. Another study shows that "total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for virgin carbon fiber totals 29.45 metric tonnes CO2 per tonne of CF". This boat weighs about 8 tons and the lead, batteries, etc would also have high GHG cost. So let's just assume that the entire boat has the same weight/emission cost as an airliner wing, or alternatively let's just look at the GHG emission for the production of the virgin carbon fibre. Under these calculations the boat's carbon and lamination alone produced about 240-370 tons of GHG. Data indicates that the average French person produces 4.4 tons of GHG annually. If that very, very rough calculation is correct this boat therefore produces about 66-100% as much GHG than the typical person in its home country will produce in their entire lifetime.

    Just by having this one boat built for them, the sailor has pretty much doubled their personal lifetime production of GHG. That's not "sustainable". The events it competes in probably take also involve a lot of conversion of oxygen and jet fuel into exhaust gases, etc. Given all that, to then make a deal about the solar panels and sustainability doesn't seem particularly convincing. It seems to me to be similar to a person buying a V8 SUV for Paris-Dakar racing 4wd and sticking "Save the Planet" signs and solar panels on top of it.

    Carbon also has a higher GHG toll than many of the materials it replaces, partly because of the high electricity costs involved in production. If one was truly concerned about sustainability, one may not use carbon. One could build only in classes where boats could be used as cruisers, since many liveaboards have pretty low impact lifestyles and cruiser/racers often seem to have longer useful lives. I'd say this boat would make a woeful cruising home no matter what practical modifications were done. Or one would have done the Golden Globe or the similar French event by putting hours of labour and far fewer petrochemicals into an existing 8 ton boat. Buying and modifying an existing boat would also have been a great option, as would sailing something like ORC boats where an existing boat can be used.

    Talking about sustainability and then apparently using double the GHG gases as your your typical compatriot does in their lifetime, just to get a faster piece of sporting equipment, does not seem very logical.
     
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  10. Dejay
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    Dejay Senior Newbie

    Thanks C249, those are indeed shocking numbers. I'm not really strongly disagreeing with anything you say.

    But my point was that we then need to change how carbon fiber is made. Use solar power to create it. Like this boat is using solar power and in doing so objectively added to our knowledge or experience to how solar panels can be used and what the limits are. At least in a small way.

    My other point is why critique this boat specifically? I doubt you're applying the same standard when talking about any other racing sailboat in construction.

    And say what you will, at least it got us talking ;)

    Now this would be awesome: Fakultät für Chemie: Carbon fibers from greenhouse gas https://www.ch.tum.de/en/research/highlights/archiv-2018/carbon-fibers-from-greenhouse-gas/
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
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