Passive Energy

Last week, we introduced our previous boat, Whio, which taught us a lot about life afloat.

Internal air quality is very important. With Whio, we had bad condensation problems, even though the boat was well-insulated. Hatches and windows grew ice on their interior on cold and dark winter nights. I also learned the the marine industry’s drive towards 12/24 volt equipment has negative consequences in regards to maintenance. And last but not least, diesel on a boat is, by and large, really unpleasant. After purchasing my 5th gas bottle for the galley onboard Whio, I vowed never to use gas on a boat again.

Whio at Loosdrecht, NL

When considering life afloat once more, we determined that there should be no diesel or petrol engines or heating systems. To deal with condensation, I thought, either we needed properly insulated windows, or a forced air ventilation system – capable air conditioning.

While the marine industry is well aware of these issues, the energy constraints on a vessel leave most boat owners with a cost/benefit solution. This conversation starts with a discussion about which comforts you are prepared to go without onboard. From here you determine size and type of yacht you want, then determine the size of the generator or extra alternators in a highly engineered and carefully calculated plan. After many years of industry improvement, you land on a relatively efficient technological solution.

In the last few years I have been working at UCN, and have been surrounded with enthusiastic colleagues teaching tradespeople these exact lessons, based on many years of building improvements and construction. Students would head out to investigate buildings suffering similar problems and as a group, they troubleshoot how to solve the problem.

Using this approach, we redefined our starting criteria for the yacht. Warmth, comfort, heat, and air quality were all given, and the starting point for how we would specify equipment. This is not a truly new concept. Anyone can make a wishlist for their yacht – we just call them superyachts. The revelation is to do this at a price which doesn’t push the cost of a normal production yacht, to deliver uncompromising comfort through a smart energy system to maintain affordability.

That means no condensation!

Using a combination of the right materials, design, and an ultra-efficient energy transfer system, we can provide the comfort by harvesting, storing and reusing energy in multiple ways which eliminates the need for lots of instant power by generator.

For the design of Whio II – The idea is not to pick what comforts we can go without, but to start with everything we want and need, and deliver that through effective management. This means we will use a normal house water pressure system instead of the marine style, normal flush toilets and domestic appliances which are all substantially cheaper and more reliable.

Our energy heat management will be linked to the cabins as well as hot water. Heat pumps will be used with effective zone management and the intense tropical heat managed by effective ventilation, and using the larger water storage to activate evaporative cooling.

Whio II will be a nice place to live.