With an unlimited budget we could reduce this weight by 80% by using a more high tech battery technology such as lithium ion or lithium iron phosphate. The cost of the battery bank, however, would increase five fold. Since the Barbara Ann is a cruising boat, and since I needed to move some weight forward anyway, we opted for a AGM batteries.
It’s March, 2010, and we see the light at the end of the tunnel. The systems are all coming together and we expect to re-launch in mid-April. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be documenting our experiences with the project and providing some detail on the innovations that we’ve found or invented for the project. Some of these innovations include four pound 10kW water heaters that we’re running on pulsed high voltage DC. We’re using these for our 60K BTU space heaters and for instant hot water.
We’re using a state-of-the-art UQM permanent magnet motor for our propulsion and regeneration. We’ve coupled this with our own proprietary 3:1 planetary gear transmission and a programmable logic controller with 24 Hall effect current sensors and voltage monitoring to control all aspects of the power system. We’ve provided a very high level of safety interlocks. All high voltage cables are shielded and all contacts are enclosed in sealed boxes. The shields are all continuously monitored for leakage. If there’s any voltage on a shield, the entire system is shut down instantly.
We’ve developed a conversion kit for Westerbeke generators to convert them to DC operation. Our 34kW Westerbeke now has DC regulation and provides 326 or 350VDC at 100A. It’s controlled by our power system PLC for automatic operation.
Our hydraulics has been greatly simplified and is now all controlled by our own PLCs and powered by a 10hp Emerson electric motor for the hydraulic pump.
We’ve also updated the electronics with the latest from Raytheon, updated the plumbing with the latest Type I MSDs from Lectrasan, and updated our DirecTV system to high definition with a new receiver from Intellian.
This summer we’ll be doing sea trials of all the new systems in Penobscot Bay, in Maine. We’ll be reporting the good and the ugly as we shake the bugs out.