Why Aluminium?

Welcome back everyone! Time for some more details about Whio II and its design.

One of the key areas of energy management is the knowledge that energy can change its form. The efficiency of this change is a strong indicator of the efficiency of the overall system.

In recent years, companies such as Windelo and Sunseeker have released new ‘Eco Yachts’ using novel materials to build the hull and insulation. While the energy contained in the building materials is a part of the consideration, a more rigorous approach is to look at the entire life cycle of what is being created. When we talk about a ‘life cycle’ we mean from the cradle to the grave; the impact of its creation, what it requires to maintain, and what it costs to dispose of at the end. This completes a circle of calculation about energy inputs, the impact on the environment, chemicals produced/released and so on.

If your goal is to make a low-emissions vessel, it does not make much sense to choose eco-friendly materials and then put in large engines which release a lot of carbon.

In our search for true eco-friendly materials, it is hard to look past aluminium. As you can see from the graph above, aluminium has the highest energy density of any known material and it is substantially higher than batteries or hydrogen conversion when thinking about harvesting renewable energy and storing it in some form. Once made, aluminium can be cut, welded, and reformed in so many ways, but the energy required to make it is kept safe and sound within the material for the foreseeable future. Our approach in thinking about the entire life cycle means that at the end of this vessel’s useful life, the aluminium will be worth almost as much as what is cost to build from and the hulls and main structure of the vessel are almost completely recyclable.

In the previous few blogs we’ve shared, we had some really amazing comments from people all over the world talking about CMG and its potential impact on the industry.

Particularly, we received many questions about why we are building our demonstration vessel from scratch, and not purchasing an existing yacht and refurbishing it; being more environmentally friendly.

Whio II will be only one part of the used aluminium’s life cycle.

It is very difficult to improve the life cycle and economics of recycling an older vessel. In our case we are trying to produce a stunning demonstration of CMG at work and we want to design Whio II to be the best a yacht can be, rather than shoehorning this new technology into an existing vessel. In an effort to ensure that this entire project has the lowest possible environmental impact, we need to be able to be able to select all the materials involved, and aluminium is our material of preference because when all is said and done, the hull can be scraped, repurposed and utilised once again, giving it a far longer life cycle than just our vessel. It’s ability to be repurposed give it the lowest overall impact of any alternative building material.

The Plan for CMG

Hello again everyone! Thank you for tuning into our blog.

A lot of people have asked about what our plan for CMG is.

The modelling of CMG has shown it to be an extremely powerful tool. Most energy management processes, particularly those involving renewable energy, require attention to future forecasting for potential production from solar, wind, and demand-side operation. Being able to predict your production and compare it to your load-management is an effective strategy at all scales, from the national grid, all the way down to the micro-grid that would exist on Whio II.

Whio II

Because the technology does not really rely on any particular technical solution, it would be useful for any type of yacht, be it a catamaran or a monohull. Yacht owners who currently travel the world with minimal energy use can continue to do that however, their increased ability to manage their energy systems means they don’t need to carry around extra fuel or a diesel back-up.

From a commercial point of view, it is our intention to work with the world’s leading OEM suppliers to provide a CMG solution that works with their equipment. It seems reasonable to expect that the next time you buy navigation equipment, some form of CMG would be embedded in the hardware, and you’d be able to input your technical specifications to provide management options for your vessel.

One challenge we need to tackle to make this all happen is to build a community of people with a variety of backgrounds and learning experiences who are working to assist in providing CMG solutions to others in the community. We believe that mutual assistance will be the key to getting CMG in as many boats as possible. The building of this community will determine if and how we are able to provide CMG solutions to existing yacht owners and people building new yachts.

From a commercial perspective, the company intends to work with large production boat manufacturers developing a solution for rental boats, so there is an opportunity for people to ‘try before you buy.’ If we are successful, then there will be ample opportunity to see CMG in operation and for people to see it and try it for themselves. To see that operating CMG is as simple as sailing the yacht as per normal. Further, that anybody can use CMG to eliminate their needs for fossil fuels, and we fully expect this technology to become ubiquitous throughout the sailing industry.

This is our ultimate goal; our reason for doing what we are trying to do. We realised early on that cornering the market on CMG was only going to hinder the rapid uptake of the technology. We are focused on allowing CMG to be the reason for electrification, and those companies that are already in the business of supplying equipment would really be where the growth and financial returns are. To start this process however, we do need to demonstrate the concept and operation. We are very excited with our fledgling community so far, and they are the catalyst for the future demand and growth of this technology.

Technical System

Hello again everyone!

We’re very lucky today in being able to show off what we have for a preliminary design for our electrical system for Whio II. The specification represents a new approach to solving the issues of a zero-emissions yacht.

Preliminary Design Configuration.

From a safety and reliability aspect, the two hulls are a mirror image of one another, so that a single issue does not compromise the entire system. However, power can be used from either battery bank (on either side), and a single engine has enough power to get you back to safety.

There’s no gearbox as they contain oil, so the electric motor/generator operates at peak torque at 700rpm, and there is a direct link from the prop to the motor.

Also, you may notice that there are several inverters, one for each major electric load, such as house loads, water, tender charging, and one for each driveline. This actually lowers weight and helps the system cope with heavy use. We have a 7.5kW sauna system and a large 7.5kW induction hob and BBQ, which will not be run together. Switching on and off stresses the HV bus bar and can cause voltage and frequency problems.

In a new approach to solar and low voltage (12V & 24V) for lights and ship systems, the solar first charges a separate battery, backed up by a 240VAC charger from the main bus, and excess energy will be DC/DC converted to charge the main system. The solar system is so large compared to the low voltage system that these batteries will be topped off early most mornings however, this design eliminates several inverters.

Whio II proposes to use water for motion damping and increased amenity value. Large commercial systems are more reliable but require three phases power, so separate inverters might be required. Until final weights and performance data is calculated, this issues remains under consideration.

Voltages on board Whio II are 750VDC, 400VAC, 240VAC, 24VDC, and 12VDC. Higher voltages lower heat loading and aren’t more dangerous than fuel, CNG, or hydrogen if installed correctly and safety procedures well defined. We will utilise the industry’s best practice to ensure power sources are isolated and able to be locked out. In an emergency, the 24VDC system will operate all essential ship systems. Once installed, there will be very little to maintain and alter in the course of normal use.

A very big thank you to our electrical engineering partner 3IS for taking on this project and really stepping out of their comfort zone to create something special.

Learning From Experience

In preparation for the building and designing of Whio II, we have been closely observing the experiences of people with electric sailing vessels. One such experience is documented in a YouTube channel; Sailing Uma.

Sailing Uma has invested in renewable energy systems and an electric boat. They have an electric drive system however, they do have a diesel heater and a normal petrol-powered two-stroke tender. We we’re very interested in their journey and highly impressed with their documentation as well as their approach to dealing with the issues they face in terms of extreme range anxiety; very careful not to get themselves in a dangerous situation, highlighted in one of their most recent videos traversing Norwegian fjords. They pay particular attention to the weather as well as the tides when they were on low power. It seems to us as if most sailors go through the same amount of preparation when thinking about making a passage, even if it is just a short one.

Sailing Uma in Norway

The CMG system will integrate quite nicely into this planning and preparation because the algorithm will look at your intended course and will let you know precisely what your battery state will be at the end of your journey.

When there was little wind, we found it interesting that they got going by ‘drift’ sailing slowly out of the fjord, not using the engine because they wanted to keep a reserve. They made a comment that having an electric system pushes you to sail more often, and that this is one of the fundamental parts of our design approach. Whio II will raise sails and motorsail even when there’s no wind and try to lower power consumption with apparent wind and save from just the smallest breezes. We calculate that the regeneration from trickle-charging is available up to 500% more often than conventional systems as the speed is preset and the charging/propulsion automatically switches.

They were quite excited to be charging at 200 watts from their solar panels. Aboard Whio II, we will have 6.5 kilowatts upon our roof, and so in those conditions we would expect up to 15 kilowatt-hours, equivalent to about 20-30nm range on a nice sunny day.

There is lovely drone footage showing them sailing along in 5-8kn winds. In these conditions, by comparison, Whio II would reach across the outer fjord in full supercharging mode. In three hours it would be simple to attain 50-100kWh into the batteries and five more than enough for a week of comfortable living, including tender rides and use of the sauna at the end of the colder days. This brave couple admit to not having showered for over two weeks, and this is the reality for most who take the electric option; it is paid for by the loss of amenities.

In last week’s blog, we introduced the smart energy system’s approach in which we increase the amenities provided. You can shower every day aboard Whio II, and thus, we need to generate a lot of power and generate it often to make that work. This means we are rarely unable to generate something and often able to generate more than enough, with no need for external power.

They do make it to a harbour, but then they have to rewire a plug and lay cable to plug in. Whio II could just anchor out, and will be ready for whatever you want to do, without any worry or range anxiety.

It’s great to see people out there striving to go fully electric. We want to enable this for everyone, without the need for much hassle, and far more comfort!

Energy Management

Welcome back to another weekly blog post from Charge Made Good!

This time, we would like to talk about energy management. Most of you will know something about Smart Grids. What it implies is that all the separate elements of an energy system can communicate with one another, allowing for very efficient management. However, large fluctuations in a system’s scale are currently difficult to manage effectively. The answer to this issue is to make the system large; not only the system’s ability to generate electricity, but to increase it’s capacity to utilise it as well. Big fluctuations in the system’s energy harvesting can be used to make life far more comfortable, and not letting that charge made go to waste. This also allows you to live on your yacht in the same manner as you would on land, letting you use your appliances and water with the same leisure as you would in your house. This comfort only requires an increased consumption of electricity.

Preliminary Design.

If we expand the Smart Grid to a full Smart Energy System, what we are doing is fully integrating the ‘transportation sector’ (which, in our case, is our motor-sailing drivetrain), the ‘heating/cooling sector’ (which, in our case, are large electric heat pumps and an instant hot water califont), and being fully electric, these together help manage the fluctuations of renewable energy we generate. They all operate together as a single communicating system.

This has lead to the design criteria.

  1. That you can live aboard as you would in a modern apartment.
  2. The rig and sail plan are optimized for motor-sailing in all conditions.
  3. The ability to safely make trans-ocean journeys short-handed.
  4. Absolutely everything would be done to ensure the vessel remains zero-emissions for it’s entire life-span.
Battery Level and Water Tank computer model.

To get energy into the system is a matter of installed capacity and availability; or how how often it is contributing to something. By optimising the drive-train for motor-sailing, a subtle change of course and angle is able to contribute to the energy management of the vessel for long periods of effective trickle-charging. This new way of managing energy harvesting, sailing operation, and the Smart Energy System is called CMG – Charge Made Good. Sailing to your ‘CMG’ allows you to travel to your destination with a known future battery state. It functions for both trip-planning and live for instant feedback and adjustment.

We believe that CMG is a truly intuitive system for sailors. Adjusting course, angle, and speed is something we find enjoyable to do. If sailing is your way of managing your energy supply, and you enjoy sailing, you will of course enjoy CMG as it combines the activity you enjoy with the management of your energy supply.

Unlimited Range

Hello everyone!

We are delighted with the response and feedback we’ve received so far and we think it’s great to be able to communicate and respond to you all.

Preliminary Design

Some have correctly identified ‘unlimited range’ as something worth defining more critically. So we thought we would take that task on in today’s blog. When there’s no sun or wind, you’re not sailing around for free. It’s all about management and planning.

At the very heart of CMG is the calculation of your battery state at the end of your journey. Whio II’s energy model is based on an itinerary around the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, the Baltic, and Alaska with 4500km (2500nm) and about 22 stops in each region. The journey is planned in advance with a fixed arrival time at each stop. The weather data from several different years is then applied to the model to see if Whio II can travel at a minimum of 5kn and arrive at enough battery charge and water to last for the stay and provide for shore trips, fishing trips, waterskiing and other leisure activities, as well as providing power to the tender, and all house loads.

Not only is all this possible, but there is enough energy to afford quite a luxurious lifestyle aboard. On occasion the weather will not abide to the needs of the vessel. This would drain the batteries and obviously be a major concern. However, in the model we looked for periods of weather 2-3 days prior with moderate to strong winds, where Whio II can sail around in what we call ‘supercharging mode’.

The vessel is slowed down to around 3kn by the specialised trailing-edge propellers, and charging at 50kw is achievable. This engineering has been independently verified twice. The end result is that you can prepare for long journeys through poor weather when there is no sun or wind by pre-charging the batteries. This is analogous to charging your E.V. before a long road-trip.

The energy model shows that on average, the supercharging (sailing around required to charge batteries, but not to travel anywhere) makes up less than 1% of the sailing hours for any given period. Here is a graph showing just such charging events in the Bahamas.

A section from one of our battery state models.

To the left of the blue arrow shows where our energy is declining with demand from the tender and house loads. On the morning of the 23/09 we have to be in another harbor, so two days prior we take advantage of the good weather we have and fully charge the boat (indicated by the blue arrow). The actual journey costs us half our 200kWh energy (indicated by the green arrow). The weather is hot and we have visitors, so the tender is used for extensive watersport, exploration, and fishing. On the 28/09, we take advantage of a passing front for a hour of supercharging (indicated by the pink arrow), and have enough energy for exorbitant use of the full air-condition system, letting the batteries to as low as 30%, but we don’t mind this, as we know that the normal trade winds have kicked in again for our next island-hop and we can travel and charge at the same time.

In our eyes, unlimited range means no restriction on travel days, destination, or lack of power for comfortable living aboard. We have to manage the energy and we will live by the forecast.

We’ve used the same load profile on other years’ weather data to see if this can be achieved, and yes it can. Three months in the Bahamas showed 15 hours, 7 hours, and 5 hours of supercharging mode events in their respective year’s weather data. Using active management will not eliminate extreme weather anomalies, but normal yachts run out of diesel and water too, without proper planning and preparation.

Unlimited range for an all-electric, zero-emissions sailing vessel. We hope you’re as excited as we are for the future!

Thank you to everyone for showing your interest and helping us spread the word about CMG and Whio II!

Preliminary Design

Summer has arrived and we have been working hard to finalize the preliminary design of Whio II.

Preliminary Design

As you can see, the team at LOMOcean have chosen a catamaran with a length of 18 meters. Whio II is designed so that all the sailing systems can be operated from inside, and all the sailing and sailing trim can be done with minimal rope-handling. The rig is a powerful aerodynamic design which is fundamental as it will serve as our main source of energy. In addition, she has over 6 kilowatts of solar panels on the cabin top. Under the floor, the cabin has space for as many batteries as we could wish for. The process now is to calculate exactly how many batteries we’re going to need to truly achieve unlimited range.

Preliminary Design

At the back there are two additional helms and we envisage this will be used in the ‘supercharging mode’ with excellent views to the rig, full sailing trim control, and the feeling of sailing a racing boat; with the CMG display calculating your performance as you cruise.

Whio II features two front sails which will attach to the rail just in front of the mast. This allows tacking without any adjustment! The front sail will be a large ‘code zero’ for light wind conditions.

You will also notice the ultra clean design because you’re not expected to go outside in any conditions, so it’s not really necessary to have protection around the front of the boat for falling overboard. However, walking around the boat at anchor is completely safe because you are inside solid bulwarks. Additionally you’ll notice the large sugar scoops at the rear with a full-height door leading to a garage for all the toys, bikes, and other things. This design suits larger overtaking waves but also makes it easy to load from the garage to the tender. Remember, this boat is not really designed to tie up in a marina but ‘anchor out’, and this will be the main way you get on/off the boat to the shore via tender.

The team here are very excited and looking forward to working on this design and finalizing details to make Whio II the ultimate zero-emissions global explorer. It’s amazing to be able to present this preliminary design to you now!

If you have any comments, questions, or want to engage with us about the design, feel free to email us, follow us on Social Media wherever it suits you and tell us your thoughts.

The Right Time

Welcome back to another blog!

“He was years before his time.” We all know that expression. Someone has a great idea, but at the time, it wasn’t feasible and practical. A new idea or technology can’t always find a place to be used and incorporated into the way of life, or might just not be commercially viable. Sometimes culture or tradition might stand in the way.

But that doesn’t really judge the idea by itself.

For example, in 1891 Danish scientist, Poul la Cour, constructed a wind turbine which generated electricity and produced hydrogen by electrolysis to be stored for experiments and to be used for lighting the Askov Folk High School. The process achieved the first commercial use of wind-generated electricity in the 21st century.

You need the right time and place for your ideas to grow.

In 1830, the automotive industry considered that electricity would be the way to go. Alas, the world preferred horses, so it was another 50 years before cars really came into their own, and nearly 200 years before the electric car would be re-introduced and become a commercial success.

One way for technologies to avoid this problem is to spend time thinking about and strategizing how they will integrate into the status quo. How you can fit and introduce your idea into the world’s current way of thinking, in order to change it.

CMG – Charge Made Good – is happening at exactly the right time. This is because the whole industry is stuck on how to make a truly zero-emissions vessel. CMG takes the very heart and core of sailing and what sailors really love to do and turns those actions into the actions needed to manage your energy. It combines the activity within the solution. And we believe that it is this integration that is going to make the difference. Sailors can use their existing boat, they can use any electric motor and battery system, or akin to Whio II, design something truly special and unique from the ground up.

The idea of CMG is to be able to predict the state of your battery at the end of your voyage (that’s just a function of distance, the energy used, and the time you want to get there in – the same function used today by electric cars). The difference with a yacht is that the conditions change. The wind is rarely consistent with the forecast, and so the CMG calculation display is set right at the helm. The sailor can adjust the course, or the sail trim to extract exactly the energy predicted.

CMG will be giving you a drip-feed of your energy potential!

This is where the sailor can manage manage the risk of being without power. Normally, a sailor waits for the weather window, so most journeys should work out, but the trick with CMG is that we also incorporate a ‘supercharging mode’. By looking at a weather forecast, you can manage a longer journey really safely. At sea, safety considerations are heightened because the environment and conditions can change quickly and you are largely on your own to deal with it.

Further on this matter, next week we will look into how to survive long periods without wind.

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.

Whio II

Welcome back to another blog post!

Today I want to be a little bit aspirational and talk about our new boat and a little bit about our old one. I have always wanted to travel the world by boat. It has been a dream of mine I was very young. In 2002, my wife Kathrin and I launched our canal barge ‘Whio’.

Kathrin told me she was happy to live aboard the boat so long as she could always see land out the window. Our canal trip was a life-changing experience, touring Europe and its waterways, and it sowed the seeds for more exploration.

The original Whio. What an amazing adventure we had with her!

We both really enjoy experiencing culture through food, markets, history, and of course the people that make every place so special. This requires a vessel which can comfortably anchor for two or three weeks without external inputs and no requirements for fuel. When you arrive somewhere, you want to be able to stay there and experience it without much pressure to move on. To give you the time you need to appreciate the local lifestyle.

Therefore, the vessel we are designing needs to be a comfortable place to live. Picture a modern apartment; a spacious living room, big kitchen area, and long hot showers. That doesn’t fit in a traditional yacht, so we’re attracted to a multihull design to give us the space we need.

When Kathrin and I are sailing along we will predominantly be alone together and therefore, safety is a top priority. The boat should be easy to sail single-handedly, and the off-watch person should be very close by at all times. We want to absolutely minimize the excuses to go outside alone at night. This is why an internal forward helm station with sail controls is our preference and we’ve accepted the compromise it will occupy in the primary living area. This boat however, derives it’s energy from the action of sailing, which will be a primary activity on board, so its integration into the living space also makes sense in that regard.

This vessel is built to demonstrate new technology and therefore includes several luxurious items that would not normally be found onboard a yacht. We have a desire to demonstrate how much energy is available, and how energy is used on board is at the heart of this entire project.

A true home at sea. That means not worrying about your water usage too!

This will be expressed in the seemingly small things which make this sailing vessel a lot more pleasurable. We will have a fully air-conditioned wet-locker so that on cold and miserable nights, your jacket is warm and dry again at the start of your next watch. Berths will have electric blankets so that you never get into a cold and clammy bed. There will be a forced-air ventilation system throughout providing dry and clean airflow. The boat will travel from the tropics to high latitudes, so the boat must be able to manage every range of temperature and climate. This will need large amounts of energy, and we will utilise a Smart Energy Systems approach to enable this.

In our next blog, I’ll discuss how I take the thinking about passive houses and low-energy buildings into this project and make it truly comfortable and integrated.