Jun 6

solar-cells-17-5.jpgTRYBRID’s new found energy appetite, with the shift away from limited battery storage, to the more energy intense hydrogen storage, has created a re-think of the project’s capacity to make electricity from photovoltaic solar arrays. We have now added in awnings and trampolines covered in added photovoltaic cells. With say lithium batteries alone, we could both quickly fill, and more disappointingly, very quickly empty the batteries. The production of hydrogen through photovoltaic, electrically powered electrolysis, means we can store days of seagoing power, instead of just hours worth, in batteries. But it also means TRYBRID has an insatiable desire for its own, onboard source energy, in TRYBRID’s case, from photovoltaic power from the sun.

A boat spends more time stationary, than it does at sea. Boats are also exposed to a lot of sunshine and wind: they are in effect, excellent platforms for harvesting renewable energy from wind and sun. We became frustrated at the prospect of having a possible 20kw (or greater) energy supply, with nothing to do with it, after we had filled the batteries and chilled the frozen foods. Hydrogen was the solution, as all you need to make it, is water and electricity…..oh, and in 2008, almost a million dollars worth of hydrogen generator, fuel cell and carbon fiber pressure tanks. Our aim is to demonstrate what can be done with 2008, with existing technology, knowing, with a degree of optimism, that the market will drive prices down into everyone’s reach, given time. At the time of writing this post, oil spiked close to $US140 per barrel, and no doubt will be much higher by this time next year. And they fretted about $100/barrel. The angst has just begun.

So what have we added? For uses under non arduous sea conditions, and for all the time on anchor, we have almost doubled the solar energy production capacity, by rolling out photovoltaic awnings, and by placing solar cells on top of 4 large trampoline nets, connecting the trimaran’s 6 corners. There are two large awnings at bow and stern. The 11m ‘booms’ otherwise used for an ‘A’ frame mast rig, (for simple down-wind sailing), are used as a central boom for the solar deck awnings. These awnings will suit the new flexible solar cells.

The trampoline nets suit clip on placement of regular, frame of foam core backed solar cells. Overall, these trampolines add huge sun facing capacity. The nets can be removed for tough sea passages into oncoming swell. The under-laying stainless rigging cables, can stay ready, in place. The aft trampolines can likely be deployed semi-permanently, with less wave damage threat. The cell by cell layout is morphed into a general net area, shown in the recent 3D, above.

Also shown above is the side, pop-top cabins, with their PV cells raised, conveniently forming an accommodation cabin at anchor. There is a huge area of photovoltaic cells on the boat before the trampolines and awnings are factored in … enough to happily propel the boat at low speeds near 6 knots. But as mentioned above, whilst the added solar will make simply sun powered motoring quite successful, the real purpose of adding free source energy, is to electrolyze hydrogen on all those lay days when boat is not passage making.

As a former world sailor, the job of getting up on dark, dangerous, heaving foredeck, to change a head sail at 3am in the morning, is no fun. But with solar sailing, all the work of powering the boat is done at the dock, under calm sunny skies. The sailors work, of setting out the awnings and trampoline nets, can be done BEFORE heading to sea. Most of action around the boats energy production can therefore be happening when the boat is most idle.

This indeed turns idle into ideal.

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