“Green” Lobster Boat

By Keith Henderson at April 21, 2011 02:12
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Under an initiative for Maine Coast lobstermen, the Penobscot East Resource Center (PERC) is looking to a new design of lobster boat with a trimaran hull as a “green” solution to the high price of fuel. PERC is a non-profit organization located in Stonington, Maine, whose mission is to preserve a future for the 50+ fishing communities on the Maine East Coast.

Present day lobsterboats differ little from their predecessors of 70+  years ago who can easily consume 3,000 galls of fuel annually representing 30 per cent of running costs. In 2010 PERC commissioned research into the design of a more efficient hull in an attempt to reduce fuel costs and take advantage of any other design improvements made over the last seventy years.

The usage profile of the lobsterboats was careful examined which has to include a capability of traveling 60 to 100 miles daily at a speed sufficient to get out to the fishing grounds do its work and return to harbor each day.

Various propulsion configurations including diesel electric and solar power were considered but for this application, did not present sufficient advantages to overcome the disadvantages. It was concluded that the best way forward would be to adopt a multi-hull - a trimaran, which offers a wide beam and therefore large working surface, good stability, yet with the benefits of lower drag.

According to project manager Dr Douglas Read, naval architect and adjunct Professor of Engineering at Maine Maritime Academy, with the more efficient hull configuration of a trimaran, a 30 per cent reduction in fuel consumption may be possible by using a single 130 kW (175 hp), instead of the usual 187 kW (250 hp) diesel engine, thereby delivering a fuel saving for the lobsterboat of 16 galls per day.

Tank testing of a model of the center hull is due to commence in May 2011 with trials of the full trimaran hull later in the year. Assuming successful results and a forthcoming customer the full size trimaran lobsterboat could be completed during 2012.

Caption: A trimaran hull offers a wide beam and therefore large working surface, good stability, yet with the benefits of lower drag.
Image credit: Penobscot East Resource Center

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