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Electric Powered Catamaran May Revolutionize Yacht Power

 
 
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Old 03-17-2004, 12:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Electric Powered Catamaran May Revolutionize Yacht Power

Solomon Technologies, manufacturer of diesel-electric and all-electric drive for sailboats, has joined forces with Lagoon Catamarans and The Catamaran Company to install electric propulsion systems in Lagoon boats.

The first two electric Lagoons – designated 410 S2 E – will be delivered this Fall by the Catamaran Company to private customers who have placed orders. The next electric boat off the line will be a new Lagoon model, the 440 E, which will be built next year specifically for The Catamaran Company, Lagoon’s largest U.S. dealer.

“It’s an important development for our company in many ways,” says Solomon Technologies CEO David Tether. “Not only do we now have a manufacturing relationship with the world’s biggest sailboat maker, but it has given us the opportunity to work out production techniques that are only possible when you have first-hand experience doing the carpentry, fiberglassing and electrical connections inside the hull itself. Plus we were able to train a crew from our European distributor, HFL, when we installed the first electric drive at the Lagoon factory. Now HFL is able to install our systems for customers in Europe.”

The Catamaran Company has heavily promoted the partnership on its website (www.catamaranco.com), beginning with a front-page article about Waypoint, the first of the two 41-footers off the production line. The second electric Lagoon, expected in November, is named Paradigm. Catamaran Company President Hugh Murray states in the website article that “Waypoint marks a new beginning for the catamaran industry and places The Catamaran Company in pole position to combine the might of the largest yacht manufacturer with their reputation as the leading catamaran retailer in the world and deliver a new catamaran that exceeds expectations in cost efficiencies and sailing performance.”

The electric cats have twin 12 hp ST 74 motor drives installed in place of Lagoon’s standard 28 hp Yanmar diesel and SailDrive power train. A bank of 12 Group 4D Lifeline batteries supplies power to the 144 VDC motors and the boats’ auxiliary systems. The battery bank is regenerated by the motors acting as generators when the prop spins under sail. The Lagoons also have a 15 kw HFL generator to provide backup power for the electricity-hungry amenities that these luxury cats always carry.

Tether points out that except for the motor drives, which connect directly to the prop shafts, the components of the Solomon system can be located wherever desired on a boat to improve trim. In Solomon Technologies’ Conser 47E cat, for example, the batteries are located just behind the keel where they add to stability.

The Lagoon staff apparently hadn’t understood that the Solomon system automatically recharges the batteries – either from the motor/generator as the prop spins under sail or from the generator feeding directly into the central battery bank. They thought that the 15 kw HFL generator in the Solomon system was just a big replacement for the standard Lagoon 4 kw generator, which only supplies electricity for house power and AC appliances.

“I explained to him that the generator in our system feeds into the same battery bank that powers the drive motors,” Tether says. “I said ‘If the batteries run low, and there’s no wind to sail, you just start up the generator and voila! You can motor as long as your diesel fuel holds out’.” He also pointed out that the single Solomon generator was taking the place of three internal combustion engines in the standard Lagoon setup – the two propulsion diesels and the 4 kw generator.
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Old 03-17-2004, 12:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Soloman Electric Motors mounted in each sponson. Due to the reduced size of electric motors over internal combustion engines, the shaft exits the hull at a reduced angle, thus placing the thrust line more parallel to the running surface. This increases efficiency.
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Old 03-17-2004, 12:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Banks of batteries mounted midship to increase stability...
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Old 03-17-2004, 12:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The power converter...
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