New Catamaran Sails on Solar Power

Lots of companies are doing great new things with solar power. Boats that run on solar power are starting to become feasible. Think of all the advantages: no fumes from the fuel, less engine noise, no fuel stops or fuel expense! Just think about all those locales where there’s nothing but endless sunshine—potential fuel for your nearly endless adventure.

We’re getting there: a company caled Planet Solar, based in Germany, has developed a solar-powered catamaran that aims to circumnavigate the globe using nothing but the sun’s rays for power. It has more than 500 square meters of solar modules. Apparently the biggest challenges of this project has been to store enough energy so that the boat can keep running after dark. The team has overcome this with state of the art lithium ion batteries which weigh around 11 tons.

So that means, there are weight problems too. To minimise consumption of energy, the team used the latest in lightweight construction technology. Carbon fiber is employed extensively in the vessel; it has excellent strength and very low weight, which made it the perfect material.

The boat has four electric motors that have a maximum output of 120 kilowatts. It uses two large propellers for motion and steering. The propellers are also made of carbon fiber and are positioned at the end of each of the boat’s 2 floats. Of course, each propeller can be independently steered. The maximum speed of this vessel is 14 knots.

The boat is virtually silent, and of course, non polluting. Going around the globe is expected to take 160 days. The team is stopping at several ports near the equator to do some outreach and develop a larger, international audience.

The team hopes to set sail in early 2011. We wish them the best, this is a pretty cool undertaking!

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