As Juan Luis Larrabe explained, the idea is for such vessels to take advantage of the energy from the wind movement in order to generate electricity: “The wind energy is gathered in the sails and the propeller operates as a turbine. This turbine is connected to an electric generator which charges up electric batteries in such a way that, when you want to propel the vessel and there is no wind, you can use this stored energy while avoiding using the internal combustion engine”.
It is a hybrid model and not exclusively electrical (the latter would mean reduced operational range, apart from the fact that the great volume of batteries required today would make it unviable). “You still have to have the traditional engines on board, but the idea is to use them as little as possible”, explained Mr Larrabe.
In this first phase, most of the theoretical work required by the project was undertaken. As Mr Larrabe stated, “in order to characterise the vessel from a mathematical perspective and draw up a preliminary design”. That is to say, they calculated what the various elements taking part in the hybridisation of the boat should be – the hull, the propeller, the hull-propeller interaction, the electrical/electronic machinery and the internal combustion engine. Then they put all this data together to “carry out simulations with different strategies of hybridisation to find out which of these might be the most efficient, from a theoretical perspective, for this vessel”. They have also designed a navigation course from the port and which will be used in upcoming and more practical stages of the project.Seeking funding
For this second simulation stage, the team will need the help of students from the school. Moreover, both for this phase as for the third - in which the prototype will be finalised -, it is essential to have funding. To this end, they are looking to collaboration with ancillary enterprises in the Basque naval engineering sector, a sector for which the project is a highly interesting one given that, as Mr Larrabe reminds us, “it could well be a new business model for a sector that is none too healthy”.Safer
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