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Solar-Powered Boat Carries 8.5 Tons of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the solar-powered-submersible-still-facing-engineering-challenges dept.

Transportation 164

bshell writes "The Verge has a great photo-essay about Tûranor PlanetSolar, the first boat to circle the globe with solar power. 'The 89,000 kg (nearly 100 ton) ship needs a massive solar array to capture enough energy to push itself through the ocean. An impressive 512 square meters (roughly 5,500 square feet) of photovoltaic cells, to be exact, charge the 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries that are stored in the ship's two hulls.' The boat is currently in NYC. Among other remarkable facts, the captain (Gérard d'Aboville) is one of those rare individuals who solo-rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, journeys that took 71 and 134 days, respectively. The piece has a lot of detail about control systems and design."

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Isn't that cheating? (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44107463)

Wouldn't it be cheating if he rows across the ocean in a solar-powered boat?

Re:Isn't that cheating? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44107635)

From the sounds of it, he also rowed some other boat across the atlantic and pacific. This is a completely different journey in a different boat. Although I have to wonder, if it's solar powered, why does he have to bring so much weight in batteries? He should be able to travel when there's light, and anchor at night, so as not to stray too far off course. Also, despite the fact the I realize he's probably doing this just to prove he can, there's a million other ways to power a boat, many of which, such as wind power (using sails), are good for the environment. It apparently took him 584 days to go around the earth. It only took Columbus 5 weeks to cross the Atlantic, and he didn't even know where he was going.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107719)

Not much of an anchor when the bottom is >10,000ft down.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (1)

thebigmacd (545973) | about a year ago | (#44107815)

Ever try to circumnavigate the globe along the equator? That's right, you can't. There's a big difference between 5 weeks sailing as the crow flies across the Atlantic, and sailing all the way around the world.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44109161)

It only took Columbus 5 weeks to cross the Atlantic, and he didn't even know where he was going.

Magellan's group and Cook both took almost exactly three years to go around the world...

Re:Isn't that cheating? (0)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#44109497)

Magellan's group and Cook both took almost exactly three years to go around the world...

And they were solar powered too! (Sailing boats rely on the Sun to power the wind).

We have far superior sailing technology now, and it does not require lithium batteries. This is a giant leap into stupidity.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (1)

ewibble (1655195) | about a year ago | (#44107707)

I would be impressed if you could solo row a 89 ton ship any significant distance. I am sure it was a different vessel that he rowed.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44107721)

I don't even like taking the stairs instead of the elevator in my brother's apartment, lol. So yeah, no gigantic ship towing for me. But yeah, I believe it was in a different boat. Although, rowing once then again and then instead taking a battery-powered solar boat...isn't that like taking the stairs and then being even more daring and taking the elevator? lol.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44108165)

Cool story, brah. Want to tell us next about how you had to cut the dingleberries out of your butt the other day? I'm sure that one is equally as fascinating.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (2)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44109063)

He bitch-slaps Popeye every day right after he has breakfast.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44108821)

No. Cheating would be poking a hole in the back of the battery packs, waiting for the seawater to hit the lithium and taking off like a rocket.

Re:Isn't that cheating? (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about a year ago | (#44108837)

Currents!
If you get in a big barrel, with enough food and water to last 2 months in Gran Canaria someone will find you in 7+ weeks in the Caribbean. Current does the work.
Anyone who's actually crossed the Atlantic knows this. too many ignorant bystanders.
There are simple answers to seemingly complex problems. The first step to solving a problem is understanding. ...

sounds dangerous actually (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#44108859)

Is it even a remotely good idea to keep that many batteries in a single location? Are lithium ion batteries really that stable? I thought they can be prone to rupture, etc?

Very nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107495)

A Hindenburg that floats.

Re:Very nice (5, Funny)

lkernan (561783) | about a year ago | (#44108005)

A Hindenburg that floats.

Um, airships do float.

Re:Very nice (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44108663)

The Hindenburg doesn't, at least not anymore.

What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (2)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#44107511)

Saltwater and batteries!?!?!

Re: Same guy who made every car, plane and trains (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107537)

Flammable fuel in an oxygen rich atmosphere?!

with a retarded human to drive it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107723)

with a retarded human to drive it...

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#44107715)

Seems to me that 8.5 tonnes of batteries would take more energy to drag across the water than it was worth. Meanwhile, of course, people have been using sails for centuries to get around the globe.

There are good reasons to use the lowest tech required to do the job. Sure, they be trying to make some sort of point, but I'm sure there are more useful ways to do that.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (3, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#44107947)

How much oil would it take to move a boat round the world? I would say 8,500kg of batteries isn't a lot for a 100,000kg boat.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (4, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | about a year ago | (#44108261)

Most ships need ballast anyhow. Not clear that there's any net weight penalty at all from carrying the batteries.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (3, Informative)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44108451)

square hulls don't require ballast, they're stable by nature of the shape. Neither do catamarans or trimarans, they're stable for much the same reason that square hulls are: edge displacement equals or is greater than centre displacement.

An ASCII demonstration:

\/ : single-keel trangular hull. Not very stable because at each point on the hull a different upward pressure acts, resulting in something that requires ballast in the bottom to keep it pointed the right way and/or....
Y : triangular hull with sail. Only stable because of the sail (which has ballast in it). Without it, it's about as stable as a log in white water.
\_/ : still a triangular hull, this time with a double keel. More stable than the single keel (above), but think of the small rowboats one would use on a lake. Obviously the wider the hull in relation to the length, the more stable it's going to be, but it ain't gonna be capsize-proof. Would still require ballast if it's doing anything other than glass-still laking.
|_| : square hull. Very stable because the same upward pressure acts on every point of the hull bottom. Wider=capsize proofing. If you could make a double wardrobe watertight, it would be brilliant as a rescue/evac boat in case of disastrous flooding, because it would hold as much human weight as the total volume of water displaced (40 cubic feet to an inch of the side, for argument's sake, that's 1.13 cubic metres - that's over a ton of water, or a dozen to fifteen full grown adults) and still be rock solid stable.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44108741)

The flip-side is that a square hull moves through water like a square hull through water. Not very well.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44108903)

so you make the front pointy. No biggy. All you have to do is cut the water and move it out of the way as you go. Or (and this is a kickarse idea), gather enough speed so you actually ride above most of the water as a result of upward pressure buildup at the bow (a phenomenon known as hydroplaning - great for boats, not so great for road vehicles). It helps if the front of the vessel is angled to encourage this to happen.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44109475)

Of course, you're only considering primary stability. A box shaped vessel has high primary stability, but as it is heeled it has low secondary stability as it suddenly becomes a v shaped hull. A flat bottomed boat with hard chines, your \_/, has moderate primary stability and high secondary stability. Think a grand banks dory, you can stand on it's gunnel and not tip it over.

That's not even getting into dynamic stability, and how righting force changes in a definable curve as a hull is heeled until the deck edge is immersed.

Hull design is a complicated science.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | about a year ago | (#44109531)

I don't understand your premise.

I'd have expected stability to be defined by the question "as the boat heels, is there a moment to return it upright?"

That seems a natural definition of stability, ie. the boat stays stable, ie. the boat stays upright.

Why would "every point on hull experiences equal pressure" be a definition of stability? Or if it isn't, what definition are you using?

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#44108521)

Meh... I was gonna mod this thread. Bugger it.

Anyhow, I'm glad you mentioned that. I was going to add something similar. Seeing as you seem to know something about boats...

Another thing that made me wonder is, isn't this a three hulled vessel? Yet, from the summary, the batteries are kept in the "ships two hulls." I am forced to wonder where the third one went but, by doing so, I demonstrate that I've clearly violated the rules of Slashdot and read the article.

Ah well... Perhaps the editor will come along and make changes? It should say something akin to "two of the ship's hulls" or, perhaps, even "two of the ships three hulls."

Don't get me wrong, I could be mistaken, but I think that giant thingy in the middle is called a hull too. I'm not much of a boatman but I've been known to play at being one on the weekends (for years now - no matter how appealing I refuse to invest in one even if I can afford it) and for a whole summer once. I have some friends who have big craft too and sometimes will go out with them and give them a hand.

So, I could be mistaken - I'm willing to admit that. I don't think I am though. I think that's a "tri-hull catamaran" though that's where I start to show my lack of knowledge. It may be called a "triple-hull catamaran." I think the spars have to be vertical to be considered a "trimaran" but I'm not sure - as I said, this is where I start to show what I don't know.

Anyhow, I know enough so that I *think* that's got three hulls and I have concluded that I'm pretty sure that, "the ships two hulls" is incorrect. Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken. And, for the record, I can think of a lot of things to waste money on that are more functional than a boat (small fishing craft, canoes, and kayaks don't count). I have seen one too many perfectly healthy friends go broke and insane because of their little nautical addiction. You can develop a healthy cocaine addiction for a tenth of what some of these guys have paid and it's probably healthier, more fun, and able to be made use of more often. Do not buy a boat!!!

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (2)

fauxjargon (2804219) | about a year ago | (#44108687)

It has two hulls which contact the water under normal conditions. The reason the middle hull is nicely shaped like that is so that in rough seas, when water does hit it, it deflects more gently off the sloped sides rather than slamming into a boxlike hull.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44108405)

Marine engines tend to be large and heavy. The ocean supports the weight, unlike a car which has to run on tyres on roads, a train that has to run on tracks and an aeroplane that has to remain up in air. So the main thing is fuel economy and overall efficiency, .

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44108475)

Sure, they be trying to make some sort of point...

Yeah, they were trying to make Steve Job's boat look good.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44108501)

Seems to me that 8.5 tonnes of batteries would take more energy to drag across the water than it was worth.

Striking that in a community of self-identified "geeks" and "techies" that the notion of "proof of concept" would be so difficult to grasp.

"Big deal, they walked around on the moon, but they had to wear big heavy protective suits to do it, so clearly, we shouldn't have a space program. And so what that the Mars Rover is tooling around on the surface of Mars. It moves really slowly so we shouldn't do any more Mars exploration until we can bring a Ford Explorer and get around like Jesus intended, with internal combustion engines burning refined oil."

Here's a group that will embrace any new technology, stand in line to buy an Apple iWristwatch, but the mere mention of anything having to do with research into energy from any source besides Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Nukes and they dig in their heels like somebody's trying to take away their binkie.

Sometimes I'm surprised they're not holding out until their laptops can run on a two-stroke engine.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44109059)

Sometimes I'm surprised they're not holding out until their laptops can run on a two-stroke engine.

I slashdot from a difference engine, you insensitive clod!

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44109091)

You're not being fair here. GP understands that the ship *IS* a proof of concept. They are just arguing (which I somewhat agree with) that using sails is a "zero-emission" form of ocean transportation that has been proven to be effective for THOUSANDS OF YEARS.

It would be interesting to see a comparison for a sailing ship, so I'll give it a go with some google-fu and very limited actual sailing knowledge.
0) comparison ship: I don't know enough to pick a true apple-to-apple comparison for this ship. But I'll take as an example of sailing technology the Atlantic, which held the record for the fasted crossing of the Atlantic ocean for about 75 years. The article says that the Turanor usually goes "about as fast as sail" so I think it's a somewhat decent comparison. And neither ship was designed for large capacity shipping.

1) Crew size:
Turanor -- Up to 9
Atlantic -- four masted schooners could be handles by a crew of eleven, while larger ships needed 20-30. I couldn't find Atlantic's specific crew size so we'll say 12 for a nice round number.

2) Mass:
Assuming all other parts of the ship are approximately equal the Turanor has batteries that weigh 8.5 tons. So with a crew of 3 more people, how long a journey does it take to equal that extra weight?
Food per person per day: assume about 5 lbs
Water per person per day: assume a gallon, 8 lbs
Total extra weight per day: 39 pounds (round it to forty)

So we have 3 more crew members each at about 200 pounds body weight and 40 pounds of resources a day to keep them fed and watered. So we can go for about 410 days on the same mass as the batteries.
This is pretty close to the listed world trip time of 384 days, so we'll give sail a (very) slight lead.

3) Surface area of capture
Turanor -- 5500+ sq ft of solar panels
Atlantic -- 18,500 sq ft of sail
So, per square foot, the solar panels seem to be more efficient.

4) Monetary analysis
This one is really hard, because I don't know how much the battery and solar panels cost for the Turanor. Instead I will just look at the differences in crew already assumed.

3 crew members. Assume they are highly trained (this is somewhat of a luxury/science vessel) so with a standard tech starting salary that's at least $50k per person per year. Also assume about $2.4k per person per year to feed them (+-$200 per month). This gives a total of $52.4k per person per year, or $157.2k per year for sail over solar.

I'm very tempted to give this one to sail, because I think that the solar tech they're using is way more expensive than $160k. But again, the higher crew count is a continuing cost and I hope you don't have to completely replace the batteries and panels every year. Of course I'm also assuming that in this day and age, the cost of good rope and sail is negligible compared to these other costs. So I would put this one also edging slightly toward sail, but pretty much a tie.
--
So, given the above criteria, it looks like solar powered ships are almost even with 100+ year old sailing technology. Much better on energy collection density and labor, but overall, not too different.

We couldn't slingshot to the moon and jump around in our underpants, it's silly and physically impossible. We CAN sail across the ocean with zero-emissions and a similar monetary cost to solar. Sometimes it's good not to downplay tried and true technology.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#44109549)

The top speed of a vessel is defined by its length at water line unless the vessel "planes" (flies above the water on a "wing") - water resistance increases with the fourth power of speed and it is futile to try and break this limit.

Sailing ships require one highly trained person and several numbsculls. Generally, numbsculls are cheap. A modern rig can be sailed by a single person most of the time, and only requires extra crew members when the sails need adjusting (probably 30 minutes once or twice a day while out at sea). All sea-going ships require at least one person nominally awake and alert 24 hours a day (not pissed out of their heads - the more common case in reality).

The economics of sail mean more ships is better than bigger ones above a certain point - don't put all your eggs in Bernie Madoff. Long enough for 20 - 25 knotts is big enough. One huge ship is a Victorian solution to the need to minimise fuel consumption. If you are not using consumable fuel, there is more to be gained by minimising risk, improving manoeverability, reducing the cost of terminal facilities, and speeding loading and unloading.

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about a year ago | (#44109357)

Seeing as how he already made the trip successfully, there's not much to debate about the practicality of it.

In NYC? More like Boston (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107837)

It WAS in NYC, prior to the post. It was in Boston when posted as being in NY.

Re:In NYC? More like Boston (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#44108733)

I am not entirely sure what you're talking about. Perhaps you goofed and posted this in the wrong spot? I do that but I'm usually pretty wasted at the time.

I suppose now would be the time to say, "It happens to the best of us." I suspect that isn't true however. It is sort of like, well... Have you ever noticed that it is usually a completely retarded idea or vocalization that results in someone saying, "Great minds think alike!" Anyhow, I doubt it happens to the best of us. It happens to me when I'm completely retarded. I don't know what your excuse is, if I were you then I'd blame beer. ;)

Re:What Bat Villian designed this boat?!?! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44108481)

More to the point - water and lithium? What could possibly go wrong.... let's hope none of the batteries ever rupture and get wet, otherwise I don't want to be around that boat.

Net Energy Use? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107529)

Anyone have an estimate of how much energy it takes to produce and transport 17,000 pounds of lithium ion batteries?

Is this really an efficient solar use compared to, say, sail?

Re:Net Energy Use? (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about a year ago | (#44107581)

Classic Rube Goldberg machine. "You know that story about how NASA spent millions designing a pen that could write in space?..."

Re:Net Energy Use? (3, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#44108919)

I am hoping that you know this but I am compelled to respond to your post. I feel like I'm potentially preaching to the choir here but, well, it could be possible that you don't know this. If you don't then, well, I feel sad for you but not in a bad way. The quote is pretty common... The quote is also usually finished with a statement about how the USSR just used a pencil.

The reality is that NASA didn't develop (or pay for the development) of the space pen at all. It was developed by Fisher, at their own expense, and with no guarantee that it would be purchased by NASA for use in space. What had happened was that NASA had paid way too much money for some mechanical pencils and the public found out about the expensive pencils and all hell broke loose. Keep in mind how much we were spending on the space race at the time, be sure to convert those dollars to today's dollars for a true comparison. Americans were well and truly pissed and justifiably so.

Citation [scientificamerican.com]

What the above link sort of touches on is the trouble with the idea of using a pencil, which is something you hadn't mentioned at all but I'll bring it up in order to be complete. One of the reasons that I understand a pencil is a bad idea (while sort of mentioned in the article they don't go into in at any depth and don't cover this specifically) is that every time you write there are microscopic fragments of graphite that break away. In a weightless environment they can go all over the place and graphite is also a very good conductor of electricity. The various electronics were very sensitive at the time and while most systems had a backup any point of failure was seen as a bad thing. The small bits of graphite could conceivably float away, enter a computer system, and cause a short - which wouldn't necessarily result in a fire but could possibly be a Bad Thing® and *could* potentially cause a fire in and of itself. (I'm not sure how well pencils themselves burn or how much the flammability of the pencil itself was a concern that actually was for NASA to be honest.)

That is, as near as I can remember, how the story was relayed to me by someone who worked on the earlier Apollo missions. The conversation was over more than one beer (and about a lot more than that) so I may have missed something. The linked citation pretty much goes along with the story as he detailed it.

If I may digress a bit... I was not alive for the earliest launches but I do recall watching the first humans on the moon on television. My parents told me the cliché about how I could do that someday but I never really wanted to walk on the moon. It did change me though. It made me interested in the technology and the computers that got them there. I didn't want to walk on the moon but I did want to work one of those giant beeping machines with the interesting dials and gauges on the ground and maybe visit space for a little while just to experience weightlessness but I wouldn't want to stay there for long. Not every little boy wanted to be an astronaut when we grew up, some of us wanted to play with the machines that went beep instead. And, well, that was me. I never did get to play with NASA's beeping machines but I've was in front of a computer for pretty much all of my professional life and still sit in front of one now that I'm retired.

Re:Net Energy Use? (4, Informative)

fox171171 (1425329) | about a year ago | (#44108147)

Anyone have an estimate of how much energy it takes to produce and transport 17,000 pounds of lithium ion batteries?

Is this really an efficient solar use compared to, say, sail?


Moving heavy loads by sea is very efficient. You don't see "container-planes" for a reason. The buoyancy from the displaced water does the lifting, you just move it.

Re:Net Energy Use? (1)

Pallas Athena (2855215) | about a year ago | (#44109609)

Yes, moving heavy containers by sea is very efficient. However, looking at the design of this vessel, about the _only_ thing it moves is its batteries. The full article even writes that living space is very limited, and there doesn't seem to be any cargo except for the bare necessities needed for the crew. ... which makes this boat comparable to an average (albeit ocean-worthy) sailingboat, not to a container ship. And in that comparison, I think the sailingboat easily wins, on environmental impact, price and speed. Hell, probably even on comfort.

Re:Net Energy Use? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44108251)

It's not so bad. Floating on a ship is one of the most efficient ways to carry weight.

Re:Net Energy Use? (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44108537)

the technology's there, why not use it? Why not use *both*, indeed?
As someone else has already pointed out, you don't need to lift the load in water, the water does that: the vessel finds a point where its mass equals the mass of water displaced and there finds a neutral buoyancy. All you need to do then, is push it with enough force to overcome hydrostatic friction and send it on its way. 10% of an oceangoing vessel for fuel is a stupendous amount of deadweight. Most tankers have *tiny* fuel tanks - often less than 1% of the deadweight.

Lifting a mass into the air, ever a paltry 32,000 feet (pretty much what heavy haul cargo eg mail does) requires a huge amount of energy. Half an intercontinental airliner's mass at liftoff is fuel. That's how inefficient it is. Take it to the extreme: the amount of energy needed to put a 1kg satellite into orbit would power an average American home (2 adults, 2 children) for six hours. Then you have to factor in the energy needed to lift that fuel and the rocket from a dead stop to 17,000mph in four minutes. Then multiply that requirement by the total mass of the rocket plus payload. Sixty eight tons of shuttle, eight tons of satellite suddenly seems like a ridiculous proposition. The problem is solved by dedicating most of a launch vehicle to fuel. In the case of the shuttle system, that figure runs 729 tons - 99% of the total weight on the pad. Most of that will be gone in the first ninety seconds.

Great, another solar article (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107601)

Cool story... except in reality, all the boat owner is doing is turning a lot of oil-energy to make solar panels (which never ever put out anywhere near the energy it takes to create the cells, frames, and wire interconnects it takes to make them), and calling that new.

At least "burning" aluminum into AlO is useful in some way. Spending all the cash and energy to build panels is just like ethanol, another energy shell game where the losers are us.

Re:Great, another solar article (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107649)

You are why old people need to die.

Re:Great, another solar article (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | about a year ago | (#44109411)

> energy to build panels is just like ethanol, another energy shell game where the losers are us.

I'll gloss over that solar panels and ethanol do have a net pay off in energy but that isn't the most important factor. With oil, the amount of energy to make the motor+refine+transport (fuel+infrastructure) to site+motor efficiency... consumes the majority of the energy in the fuel to begin with (over 3/4 is lost.) So if the batteries+Solar panels can be made to be more convenient and reduce the risk of pollution... then it can still be a net payoff. Similar with the Ethanol, the oil energy inputs to ethanol from farming is very small %, the majority is natural gas in the corn->oil conversion, and since ethanol is still much easier to store/use/burn in a car (LnG works well, but it takes up more than half the energy to compress to liquid, thus even more in-efficient than using natural gas to make Ethanol.)

This is stupid (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107639)

I'm sorry but this is complete nonsense.Francis Chichester sailed around the world under solar power in 1966.
I suspect it was a lot "greener" to build his boat that this.
No wonder Jeremy Clarkson talks about the "green monster"

Re:This is stupid (2, Informative)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44107753)

I'm sorry but this is complete nonsense.Francis Chichester sailed around the world under solar power in 1966. I suspect it was a lot "greener" to build his boat that this. No wonder Jeremy Clarkson talks about the "green monster"

Ferdinant Magellan did it in 1520. (Wind power is solar power, conveniently converted to a form more amenable to pushing ships.)

Re:This is stupid (5, Informative)

mmontour (2208) | about a year ago | (#44107823)

Ferdinant Magellan did it in 1520.

No, Magellan only made it as far as the Philippines and then he was killed. It was Juan Sebastian Elcano [wikipedia.org] who completed the voyage.

Re:This is stupid (1)

aklinux (1318095) | about a year ago | (#44108129)

But his ship finished the circumnavigation...

The article was about a boat circumnavigating the globe, the captain was a side note.

Re:This is stupid (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44108303)

Ferdinant Magellan did it in 1520.

No, Magellan only made it as far as the Philippines and then he was killed. It was Juan Sebastian Elcano [wikipedia.org] who completed the voyage.

That's true. And it did take 3 years to finish the voyage. They actually got back in 1522 (those few who made it all the way). However, people sail around the world in sailboats almost routinely now, in under a year.

Re:This is stupid (1)

z0idberg (888892) | about a year ago | (#44108885)

If you are going to get technical about it where do you think the energy from oil based fuels ultimately came from?

The difference between using battery power (with the batteries charged by solar all on-board) and wind is you can use the batteries even when there is no sunlight. Sailing when there is no wind doesn't last for very long at all.

Wind power will never be efficient enough to enable large transport vessels to use it exclusively. Solar+Batteries is a very real possibility of doing so.

Re:This is stupid (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#44107833)

Francis Chichester sailed around the world under solar power in 1966.

Yep, and his account of it is worth reading. But circumnavigating the world was hardly new even then. He was simply the first (and fastest) to do so single-handed via the clipper route.

Captain Joshua Slocum's earlier single-handed circumnavigation wasn't non-stop, but his account of it ( Sailing Alone Around The World, 1900) is truly inspirational.

Time for an Upgrage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107661)

They could save a lot of tonnage, and add other perks, if they swapped those lithium-ions for lithium-polymers ;)

Why the stupidity (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107677)

For crying out loud, why such a stupidity - we already had sail ships in the 1600s and 1700s and 1800s that had same size sails as this stillborn, and some of them were really good. Powering this by li-ion and photostatic is an excessive waste of precious resources and should be considered criminal negligence against the future of mankind.

Re:Why the stupidity (3, Funny)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about a year ago | (#44107797)

Clearly they were working on a fishing vessel to go out trolling for engineers. (And quite successfully too it seems)

Re:Why the stupidity (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#44107965)

Some of the most abundant elements are now somehow precious resources? aka, Silicon and Lithium.

Re:Why the stupidity (1)

NeoMorphy (576507) | about a year ago | (#44107989)

For crying out loud, why such a stupidity - we already had sail ships in the 1600s and 1700s and 1800s that had same size sails as this stillborn, and some of them were really good. Powering this by li-ion and photostatic is an excessive waste of precious resources and should be considered criminal negligence against the future of mankind.

If you want to wage war against anyone wasting precious resources, good luck, this ship is minor leagues compared to others. But I don't think they are trying to replace sails. It's not even claiming to be practical. It's cool that they don't need anything but the sun for powering on-board systems and locomotion. Sometime in the future when battery and photo-voltaic technology improves it will become more practical.

The first horse-less carriages probably seemed wasteful, but look at them now.

Re:Why the stupidity (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44108551)

And what would you think of a "horseless carriage" that, er, relied on a horse somewhere in the design? Seems like they are over-complicating a very simple, very old concept with modern gadgetry. Just because the propeller was invented does not mean that absolutely the only way to move a ship is via the propeller. What's next, a nuclear powered rowboat?

Re:Why the stupidity (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#44108959)

No, they still seem wasteful - they just ALSO seem like a necessity in today's modern world.

Re:Why the stupidity (1)

tsotha (720379) | about a year ago | (#44108289)

Not only is it a waste of resources - it's inefficient, and by that I mean a sailing ship the same size carries more cargo and moves twice as fast.

Re:Why the stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44108433)

...when the wind blows.

Re:Why the stupidity (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year ago | (#44108721)

The solar ship only works if there is enough sun shine.

I am so going to build this. (1)

betterprimate (2679747) | about a year ago | (#44107743)

I will call it Solar Sail [input name of first girlfriend].

Solar Sail Titanic!

Re: I am so going to build this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107871)

Titanic, eh? You like the BBWs,eh.

Alternative technology? (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year ago | (#44107767)

You could use the air currents that solar energy creates naturally to push a boat through the water, by erecting a large semi-rigid surface to catch those currents and transfer energy to the hull. By angling this surface, you could allow the hull to move in a direction different from the air current itself.

If the current happen to disappear for a short time, and that was a problem, you could use a small motor/battery/solar array to keep the boat in motion.

Re:Alternative technology? (3, Funny)

quenda (644621) | about a year ago | (#44107979)

But what if you wanted to move into the air current? You'd have to wait for the direction to change. It'll never catch on.

Re:Alternative technology? (0)

msevior (145103) | about a year ago | (#44108111)

There is a revolutionary idea called "tacking" that enables just this! This technology may have some use yet!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tack_(sailing) [wikipedia.org]

vs. Wind Power (4, Insightful)

tirerim (1108567) | about a year ago | (#44107785)

Of course, wind powered boats have been circumnavigating the globe since the 16th century, and can be faster, too. So this is interesting, but not exactly that impressive as a demonstration of eco-friendly sea travel.

Re:vs. Wind Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44108211)

I'm sorry what?

There have been ships capable of navigating the high seas, 5500 years ago!

Just because they didn't, doesn't mean they couldn't.

How do you think all those little islands in the south pacific got colonized?

Re:vs. Wind Power (2)

nextekcarl (1402899) | about a year ago | (#44108347)

Storks that got lost?

Re:vs. Wind Power (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44108409)

There have been ships capable of navigating the high seas, 5500 years ago!

So? Circumnavigating is a much harder feat. Glancing at discussion on it, apparently it takes one now about two to ten years to do it now, including careful planning to avoid dangerous storm seasons and human-based perils.

Re:vs. Wind Power (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44108615)

There have been ships capable of navigating the high seas, 5500 years ago!

Er is that the point of view of academics whose closest contact with the ocean is when they take a bath? Yeah I'd like to see one of those ancient vessels in an average storm. I have sailed, and believe me you quickly realize how easy it is to visit the bottom of the ocean.

Just because they didn't, doesn't mean they couldn't. Actually, it probably does mean that. While there is evidence that ancient peoples were capable of incredibly long trips - the proof of which being the colonization of Pacific islands by people sharing Asian genetic markers, those trips were probably the exception rather than the rule. People tend to take advantage of any activity that is fairly simple and fairly profitable. If it was so easy to cross the oceans, there would be much more evidence of contact between civilizations in the old world and the new. I'm not an anthropologist, but AFAIK besides the Phoenicians and the Vikings, there were not many other powers that dominated the waves.

Re:vs. Wind Power (1)

z0idberg (888892) | about a year ago | (#44108909)

Wind power will never be efficient/reliable enough to enable large transport vessels to use it exclusively.
This demonstrates that Solar+Batteries has a possibility of doing so.

Re:vs. Wind Power (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44108971)

why not use sails + engines instead. There are real ships from the 19th century that did that, one was over 600' long and laid cable.

Re:vs. Wind Power (1)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#44109573)

Did you RTFA? Despite covering the entire ship with 18% efficient solar panels, it produces a whopping 27 hp and averages only 5 knots. The fastest open-water sailboat [wikipedia.org] can go more than 10x faster.

Wind power is solar power. Why put expensive solar collectors on the boat itself, when you can let the ocean collect the solar energy for free, and siphon that power off of the wind it creates.

Rowing...RTFA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44107829)

"Captain Gérard d'Aboville is piloting the SolarPlanet for its current voyage from Miami to Norway. Earlier in his life he solo-rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, journeys that took 71 and 134 days, respectively."

Re:Rowing...RTFA! (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#44108989)

Actually, your post made me think of something.

Given how long it took for him to complete the journey (500+ days) with solar power - he may well have been able to row himself across the globe faster than he made it in this ship.

Wattage (3, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#44108027)

The thing I was most curious about was the total wattage the solar panels can produce: 93,500 watts. It takes 2 days to charge the lithium batteries even at 93.5 kW.

Re:Wattage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44108095)

It might be that on average they use more or less the same energy they collected so that the battery banks stay charged. On cloudy day(s) some of the power consumptions come from the batteries. You can't count on the solar power in the ocean to have same power output everyday like in the dessert or California.

Also it could be the battery banks are designed for long term to accommodate for battery capacity to decrease over time. Li-ion batteries hates to be full discharge as it greatly decrease the lifetime as something everyone that uses Li-ion *should* know.

Re:Wattage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44109135)

You cant assume you will be getting maximum power from your panels throughout the entire day. That number is peak power output which you would get in the middle of the day. Theres also the fact that charging batteries is not 100% efficient, 1kWh in doesnt get 1kWh out.

Quantum tunneling or something? (1)

dccase (56453) | about a year ago | (#44108057)

This boat that the TFS says is currently in NYC has also been in Boston Harbor all week.

It is scaring all the sailboats with its zero-emission powers.

10.3.250.11 (3, Funny)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about a year ago | (#44108087)

I am going to hack the shit out of him once I finish pwnzoring 127.0.0.1

Suboptimal (2)

ATestR (1060586) | about a year ago | (#44108141)

I saw this in the news last week... I didn't think at the time to question to weight of the batteries, but it occurs to me that using a catamaran design is suboptimal. You might as well go with a monohull, and design it around the batteries as ballast.

Re:Suboptimal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44108301)

The batteries are only 8.5% of the displacement weight.

Re:Suboptimal (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44108577)

that is a buttload of deadweight for a boat.

Re:Suboptimal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44108965)

I believe the issue there is the surface area needed for the solar panels. With a mono-hull design you run into a huge number of issues regarding this delicate balance - if you add a lot more top surface "hanging over the edge" of the mono-hull, then you need to add a lot more ballast in order to keep it upright. Or if you want to keep a standard surface/ballast ratio, then you're going to need to make it a lot longer, or wider, than it would need to be - and hence even slower than it already is. Or, you could reduce the capture area, but that would just mean a lot less power, and again, slower. The catamaran gives you the large surface area, while keeping the deadweight to a minimum.

Re:Suboptimal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44109567)

look up "wetted surface area". a cat is the right way to go for minimal drag through the water in a non-displacement hull. look up the late Earthracer for a similar design to this one but running on biodiesel.

20 HP average? (3, Interesting)

k2backhoe (1092067) | about a year ago | (#44108469)

This has 512 m^2 solar array, incoming sun at directly overhead is roughly 1 kW / m^2, assume solar panel efficiency of 15%. This is a total power of about 76 kW or about 100 HP when the sun is directly overhead. Averaged over a 24 hour day, this is maybe 20-25 HP. 89,000 kg of lithium battery at 200 Wh / kg is 17.8 MWh. This would take 234 hours to charge with the sun directly overhead. That is about 40 days of clear sky charging, assuming you are not running the propeller at the same time. Something is fishy here. Sounds like he charges in port, then runs to the next port on solar plus battery (otherwise there is no need for this large battery / solar cell ratio). Then he repeats. Is my math wrong, or is this story a bit strange?

Re:20 HP average? (1)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#44108557)

Your capacity estimate of the batteries must be way too high. They state it takes 2 days to charge the lithium batters.

Re:20 HP average? (2)

starfishsystems (834319) | about a year ago | (#44108607)

Directly from TFA:

Length: 31 m Width: 15 m Height: 6,30 m Draft: 1,55 m Weight: 89 t Average speed: 5 knots (9.25 km/h) Surface area of solar modules: 516 m2 PV panel efficiency: 18.8% Installed PV power: 93.5 kW (127.0 HP) Maximal engine power: 120 kW Average engine consumption: 20 kW (26.8 HP)

Your figure of 89t refers to the total ship weight, not battery weight. Your calculations are out by an order of magnitude. The claimed recharge time is two days.

Re:20 HP average? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44109481)

8 900 kg, not 89 000 kg.

Solar-Powered Boat Carries 8.5 Tons of Lithium-Ion (0)

fpabd.tk (2815503) | about a year ago | (#44108693)

Solar-Powered Boat. That Sounds More Eco friendly . It's Very Good For Our Nature

huh (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about a year ago | (#44108849)

I wonder where the sweet spot is in terms of efficiency. Carrying lots of batteries lets you more consistently provide power to your engines. At night, obviously, but also during cloud cover. But it also makes you a lot heavier. On land, that would mean you'd need to spend a lot more power to move yourself. Maybe not as big of a deal for craft that travel in water?

I'm curious what sort of time one could make with a small(ish) craft with a small(ish) battery that combines solar powered electric engines with traditional wind power.

alternative energy (5, Funny)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#44109511)

We should be investigating the use of wind energy for moving ships. Perhaps there is some way (probably very complicated!) in which we could avoid converting the wind energy to electrical energy before converting it into propulsion. I have a feeling we might be able to create some zero emission ships that way.

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