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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Update on Diesel/Electric: Nordhavn and EMotion Hybrids

Nordhavn Quietly Removes D/E Information from Website Nordhavn, a maker of heavy displacement offshore capable power boats, one of the first to offer Diesel/Electric option (made by Siemens) for this type of boat, has quietly pulled the information from their site. A reader from the "Passagemaking Under Power" Internet list offered his understanding of the situation: "PAE tends to focus on proven technologies in their boats and takes a very cautious approach to introducing new technology. It was hoped the motor manufacturer would provide a complete and proven solution, but that didn't happen, so there were some teething problems. I believe that the basic components were sound, but wiring and controls were areas where a lot of new learning was required. Two boats were built, one with full diesel electric and the other partial. The partial electric boat is being rebuilt to go back to a conventional drive system. My reading of it all is that a significantly larger engineering effort would be required to bring this to market than the business could justify. Its no fun to be on the "bleeding edge" of new technology, but I give PAE credit for taking a shot at it. But diesel engines and proven drive technology still do a pretty good job of shoving water aside. I wonder what kind of money Toyota spent to bring hybrid drive technology to market? I'm betting it was HUGE compared to the annual sales revenue of a company like PAE." A setback for greener D/E propulsion for pleasure boats. Another note... EMotion Hybrids Launches Lagoon 500 Catamaran with twin 16kW electric motors I believe this is a first for EMotion Hybrids. It will be interesting to see how well she performs. Additional: If you want to see a good technical explanation of how a Diesel/Electric system can work (specifically EMotion systems) checkout EMotion's YouTube channel for a series of informative videos. Additional x 2: checkout Mickey's in-progress research site on D/E.


Anonymous said...

How timely. I'm about to go to the Annapolis boat show to talk to Glacier Bay about their system. I'll push them more on the electrical switching systems.

rj said...

I'd be interested to hear what the latest is with Glacier Bay's system.

Anonymous said...

Howdy RJ
I saw both the Glacier Bay guys and the E-Motion guys. Too much to go into detail here, but will update my own pages soon with what I have. To summarize:
Glacier Bay now only seems to offer the 25kw generator, which is entirely too big to fit to any sensibly sized monohull. They did tell me, however, that they plan on making the systems more modular, which will allow them (or us) to use any suitable generator.

E-Motion: meeting these guys, esp. Dave Tether, completely changed my mind about going with them .I'd originally written them off for several reasons. But they know what they're talking about, they're sensible about how the do things, and they seem to be reasonable. They had a ready answer for every reason I had to not go with them…and a good one at that. I think the problem is they don't portray that on their website. They also said (in a manner that was educational rather than mud-slinging) that word in the industry is that Glacier Bay is not doing that well, that there have been problems with the common-rail-injection engines in the marine environment, and that the Nordhavn hybrid boats caught fire. Part of what made me change my mind is their commitment…they had a smaller and more removed booth than Glacier Bay, but they had more expertise by far: They had a guy there who didn't know much beyond the construction of their motors, but knew that inside and out. Dave Tether himself is a wealth of information and knowledge, and talking to him you know he's done his research.

Anyway, I'll write more details on my DE pages and online ship's log. If you're interested, I'll post a link here.

rj said...


Yes, I am impressed with the information on E-Motions website and Dave Tether's videos he has on YouTube.

Glacier Bay, though a more "slick" looking website, hasnt been updated for a long time, so I have been wondering about just how serious these guys are.

Please, post a link to your DE pages and I will cross reference from here if you dont mind!


Anonymous said...

Howdy RJ
My notes and research etc. on DE are here:
I still haven't updated from the boat show much but it's a work in progress.
I also post ideas and less concrete stuff on my ship's log at occasionally.