All-Electric High-Performance Outboard in Production
All-electric high performance motor boats, long the dream of eco-aware, cost-conscious boaters have become a reality, thanks to a collaboration between two companies at the cutting edge of technology in their respective fields.
U.S-based Johnson Controls, having already made the enormous financial investment necessary to make them market leaders in the production of Lythium-Ion batteries for mass-produced hybrid road vehicles, were able to come up with the affordable waterproof version that outboard engine manufacturer, Germany’s Torqeedo, needs to power up its new ‘Deep Blue’ system.
All Electric Hi-Performance Outboard 'Deep Blue' in Action: Photo credit Torqueedo
In due course, Torqeedo gathered laurels at the Miami International Boat Show in February where Deep Blue won the Show’s annual Innovation Award in the propulsion category for being the world's first industrially produced 80 hp electric engine powered by batteries adapted specifically for the marine environment.
Deep Blue System
A 12V battery supplies the on-board network and is automatically charged from the high-voltage battery, which it also powers back on after shut down. This HV battery has been adapted to operate in the marine environment and is waterproof rated to IP67, being completely integrated into the Deep Blue information and safety system.
Safety features are provided for at the basic level by a combination of a floating earth with integrated isolation monitor and shielded cables (as found in advanced electric cars) to ensure protection against electric shock. An ingenious waterproof combined ventilation and breathing seal gives advanced safety and performance: one component permits slow exchange of air through a membrane to compensate for changes in temperature and prevents the formation of moisture internally within the battery. A second component permits rapid removal of gases in the event that the hardware protection trips and a cell discharges; the gases produced being vented to air so that there is no danger for the occupants.
Just in case, after all that, Deep Blue components are attached to a ‘Pilot Line’: if a safety-related problem occurs in one component, all are immediately switched off. In addition, dHV, LV lines and CAN signal connections are all enclosed in one waterproof master cable and plug.
All-Electric Outboard Engine 'Deep Blue': Image credit Torqeedo
The vector-controlled brushless motor and motor electronics (with CAN interface NMEA2000 / J1939) have been specially developed for this high-efficiency outboard engine. An on-board computer with touchscreen display provides GPS-based range, speed over ground, battery charge status information and a host of other information on 14 different display screens.
Key to a propulsion system Torqueedo claim as amazingly 98% efficient is a propellor with a hub-vortex vane (HVV) derived from German Navy submarine design. The HVV geometry ensures that the propeller hub does not create turbulence or losses but gives additional thrust, which is achieved by tuning the hub cover to the propellor geometry with a mini propellor added at the end of the hub.
A Deep Blue propulsion system installed in a Rivers & Tides model Palena 6.2 with an unladen weight of 1102 lbs gave the boat a range of 72.7 miles at 5.6 knots, 25.5 miles at 12.4 knots, and at a top speed of 31.1 knots the range was just a few miles less.