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Electric Ferry Is A Solar Boat To China

A battery-powered boat covered in solar panels may be plying China’s coastal waters and estuaries in less than a year.

Faced with crippling traffic on land, China is turning to the water to ease congestion in major cities. BMT Nigel Gee, based in Southampton, UK announced earlier this week they won the contract to design and build an all-electric 150 passenger ferry destined for use in China. Construction on the 85 foot long, 28 foot wide catamaran will begin later this year, and a maiden voyage is set for the middle of 2012.

The vessel will rely on a Vanadium Redox Battery (VRB), a flow-type battery that’s good at providing large amounts of power. They’re usually used to store energy produced by wind farms or solar arrays, and they can’t be damaged if they’re stored while depleted. While VRBs are large, they can also be “refilled” without a charger simply by replacing the electrolyte.

Those batteries power an electric drive motor that can propel the boat up to a speed of 10 knots, and can be recharged while in use by solar panels mounted on the ferry’s roof. We’ll have to wait to find out the boat’s range and how long a recharge will take, but infrequent ferry operation may be ideal for an electric boat, allowing it to recharge while awaiting passengers.

Read the full article from Wired Magazine

Read the News story from BMT Nigel Gee

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