Supercapacitor electric boat : Ar Vag Tredan operates in France

supercapacitor electric boat
supercapacitor electric boat

The first electric boat in the world powered 100% by supercapacitors has been named this Wednesday, September 18, 2013 in Lorient (France). This electric ferry that will shuttle between Lorient and Pen-Mané (Locmiquélic) is aptly named: Ar Vag Tredan means "electric boat" in Breton, the local historical language.

Built by STX shipyard in Lanester, this boat shuttle with exclusively electric propulsion will charge at each stop in just 4 minutes. A capacity provided by the charging speed of supercapacitors that far exceeds that of traditional batteries. This is certainly a breakthrough for the design and construction of ships "zero emission".

Ar Vag Tredan is an electric catamaran without batteries which measures 22.1 meters by 7.2 meters and can accommodate 113 people, including 3 disabled and 10 bikes. It has two azimuth thrusters and is capable of reaching a maximum speed (in charge) of 10 knots.

A will to innovate

"The Lorient urban community was looking for a new solution. This boat is unique because equipped with supercapacitors that are recharged in four minutes. This ship carries only the energy it needs," detailed Laurent Castaing, Director of STX France.

Ar Vag Tredan

The urban community acquired Ar Vag Tredan € 3.2 million, 1 million more than a conventional boat. This additional cost should be amortized over the 30 year expected lifetime of the vessel. But if oil prices rise significantly, the Ar Vag Tredan will prove even more profitable. Especially that we can matter on the durability of ultracapacitors, which are capable of supporting a large number of charge cycles.

This commissioning carries hopes at STX. "We begin a prospecting phase around this new knowledge. This technology is declinable in the Norwegian fjords or any place having short crossings on calm seas. We hope to be the first of many to Lorient", explains Laurent Castaing and Jean Roche, site director of STX Lorient.

This non-polluting electric ferry could well please the users. If the success is there, the whole fleet of the agglomeration of Lorient could be replaced by supercapacitor boats.

The supercapacitor boat in video:

Technical characteristics

batScap supercapacitor
batScap supercapacitor

The capacity of supercaps is sufficient for powering the boat on a round trip. The charge of supercapacitors is done in just 4 minutes while the passengers enter and leave the boat. It is done using a two-pin connector to a voltage of 400V.

Supercapacitors (also called "ultracapacitors") manufactured by the Bolloré group, consist of thin aluminum plates coated with microporous activated carbon and rolled into cylinders in the shape of large batteries.

batScap supercapacitor module
batScap supercapacitor module

The boat is equipped with 128 high-capacity supercapacitors (modules) with a total weight of 6 tons distributed in the two hulls of the catamaran. This one will be able to perform 28 daily round trips, at the rate of one by half an hour, for a 7 minutes ride from Lorient to Locmiquélic on the other side of the harbor.

At the rate of 28 full recharges per day, the boat will be recharged about 7,000 times a year. This rate of charge would be impossible to hold for batteries because the lithium-ion batteries and Ni-MH batteries only support 500 to 1,000 recharge cycles on average.

On the other hand, this high rate of recharge is easily supported by batScap supercapacitors designed by Blue Solutions company, a subsidiary of the Bollore group. batScap supercapacitors use a technology developed in-house and are manufactured in a factory opened in January 2008 in Ergue-Gaberic, France. These supercapacitors have no risk of exploding and so are safer than batteries, and especially they support several million charge / discharge cycles.

The adaptation of the energy storage system with supercaps to the ship is an innovative solution patented by STX France. Naval architecture and design of the new ferry were developed by the company Stirling Design International (SDI) in Nantes, France.

This new generation of supercapacitor vessel eliminates emissions of CO2, SOx and NOx. Noise and vibration in the cabin and in the environment are greatly reduced. Special care has been taken in retail design, allowing a reduction in heat loads in the passenger area and the wheelhouse. Natural ventilation was used throughout the ship with many hatches on the roof. Heating is provided by a heat pump and 25 m² of solar panels help to improve the electric range of the boat bus during navigation.

Ar Vag Tredan was classified by Bureau Veritas as clean ship.

Update 02/17/2014:
A point on the Ar Vag Tredan few months after its launch : the electric boat works perfectly.

The grouping of shipowners of public water transit services came to the Ar Vag Tredan to learn about the technologies used by the first electric boat to operate without a battery. Supercapacitors are very reliable, which is not a surprise because in ultracapacitor there is no complex chemical reaction as in batteries. Supercapacitors recharge in 4 minutes very simply: in "Plug and Play".

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