Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fastnet yacht runs faster with space technology

11.08.2005


Space has come down to Earth for this week’s legendary Fastnet regatta. Competitor Marc Thiercelin’s 20-metre Pro-Form yacht boasts lighter batteries, more efficient solar cells and advanced energy management systems - all spin-offs from Europe’s space programmes.



On Sunday 7 August 283 boats took off from Cowes in the Rolex Fastnet 2005 race, sailing along the south coast of England before crossing the Irish Sea to round the Fastnet Rock off Ireland’s south western tip before returning to finish in Plymouth on Friday. For the majority of the crews the race represents the pinnacle of their offshore racing careers.

For Marc Thiercelin with his Pro-Form yacht, this 608 nautical miles (1126-kilometre) run represents a short sprint by comparison with his previous round-the-world exploits. Even so, he takes the Fastnet Race as seriously as anyone. Excluding the War years, this event has taken place every other year since 1925, and has long been established as one of the major ocean classics.


"It is the first time I have participated in the Fastnet race, which is a good race with with a lot of tradition," explains Thiercelin, 45, who has previously completed three round-the-world sailing races single-handed. "I am happy to take part even if for me it will be easier than normal when I sail alone in longer races. This time I have a crew of five and the race is only five days."

ESA technology helps Pro-Form perform

Electricity is fundamental for modern yachts – powering vital onboard navigation and communication gear – and especially for competitive yachtsmen like Marc Thiercelin, who has been sailing since the age of ten, has sailed more than 470 000 km across the world’s oceans, and has dedicated his time to ocean racing the last decade.

So back in 2003 when Thiercelin was planning his fourth around the world race in the Vendée Globe 2004, ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme discussed with him how innovative technologies from European space programmes could help him in his venture.

"Weight reduction and an efficient electricity system were soon identified as areas where proven technologies from space could provide interesting solutions," says Pierre Brisson, head of ESA’s Technology Transfer and Promotion Office (TTP).

A trio of onboard systems were improved by use of solutions previously developed by European industry for ESA space programmes. French company SAFT produced lighter batteries using a new type developed for satellites in the 1990s. This slashed battery weight down to 110 kilograms from around 250 kilograms for conventional maritime batteries. This provided a big performance boost for the seven-year-old Pro-Form in the Vendée Globe race.

Space technology also helped optimise battery charging. German company Solara designed two panels of polysilicon solar cells with an efficiency rate of 12-13% compared to a typical 8-10% efficiency. Just six metres of these polysilicon cells on the yacht’s roof provide enough energy to keep the batteries charged in sunlight.

In addition, a special energy management system was provided by French start-up Accuwat, using technologies developed by EADS for European spacecraft. This system controls the voltage very carefully avoids damaging battery overcharging.

"The systems from ESA worked very well during the Vendée Globe race," adds Thiercelin. "As the Fastnet race is very short and to further save weight, I decided to use only four batteries instead of the six in the Vendée Globe race. I expect the solar panels to charge the batteries, though as backup I can run my diesel engine."

Thiercelin has previously completed two Vendée Globe races, although in 2004 his entry was interrupted due to an accident with his boat.

TTP’s Brisson added: "Our systems worked perfectly in the Vendée Globe 2004 race and Thiercelin has decided to continue to use them on his Pro-Form yacht. We are happy for this because sailing gives us the opportunity to demonstrate once again that advanced technologies originally been developed by European industry for our space missions can provide intelligent solutions for us all here down on Earth."

"I am participating to win of course even if I do not have the fastest boat," Thiercelin said in advance of the race. We wish him luck. On Friday at the Rolex Fastnet 2005 prizegiving we will see how he did.

David Raitt | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMSOT808BE_Improving_0.html

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer
19.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung

nachricht System draws power from daily temperature swings
16.02.2018 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Japanese researchers develop ultrathin, highly elastic skin display

19.02.2018 | Information Technology

Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?

19.02.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>