hybrid electric

Engine technology to watch for

With the recent release of the final report of Nigel Calder's HyMAR project, marine internal combustion / electric hybrid powertrains are making waves once again- and not necessarily in a good way, as Calder's team found that the benefits of the expensive hybrids were limited to a relatively narrow, low-speed operating regime. We've known for quite a while that the major advantages of gas/electric and diesel/electric hybrid cars- namely, instant start/stop and regenerative braking- don't apply to boats. We've also known for quite a while that hybrid systems only make economic sense aboard ship if the house loads are comparable to, or larger than, the power required for main propulsion.

Tech addicts need not fear, though: There are many other fuel-saving and pollution-reducing technologies waiting in the wings, and hybrids aren't quite out of the running yet.

Does electric drive make sense in a boat?

Electric cars are trendy these days. Hybrid electric systems are perhaps a little less exciting, but still get a large share of marketing attention. Boatbuilders have been getting in on the act too, but does it make sense to consider electric drive for a boat?

In today's article, I'll summarize three common powertrain architectures (battery electric, hybrid IC/electric and conventional IC engine) and outline the logic that might lead you to choose an electric drive system for your boat.

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