- The maritime industry is one of the most polluting sectors.
- Solar Boat Twente contributes to a more sustainable maritime industry through the development of their sustainable solar boat.
The team of Solar Boat Twente was disappointed after they worked so hard and ‘only’ obtained the fifth place in Monaco at the unofficial world championship for solar boats. The team, consisting of 14 students from the Saxion University of Applied Sciences and the University of Twente, worked hard since September to build the Blue Manta. Unfortunately, they were not successful at the championship, but in terms of technological developments and the application of new innovations, they have strongly developed and made a major contribution to making shipping more sustainable.
Despite not achieving a spot on the podium, the team did win the award for the best tech talks. The tech talks are an open-source competition in which all teams present their designs and innovations of the past year to the other participating teams, aimed at learning from each other. The many innovations that the team has applied this year to the solar boat have led the team to receive the “best tech talks” award.
In addition to sharing knowledge with the other participating teams, the Solar Boat Twente team also set the goal this year to share this knowledge and innovations with the outside world. Mark Heimgartner: “It is possible to come up with something smart, but if it is not shared, then it does not have any impact. We want to reach as many people as possible. The solar boat is a means for us to let people think about the maritime industry and its pollution, the great need of the energy transition and to show that sustainable transport (at sea) is possible. Also, we attempt to contribute to more sustainable shipping. Of course, there is no immediate effect, but doing nothing has no effect at all.”
With every race the Solar Boat Twente team competed in, they got closer to a podium spot. The endurance race on Friday was not smooth, resulting in a fifth place. Due to a faltering mechanism in the wings, the boat was constantly tilted. This resulted in a lower average speed. “On paper, our chances are excellent. It is disappointing that it did not work out as expected,” says technical manager Rob van Zee. We improved on Saturday and achieved a fourth place at the slalom and third place at the championship races, a knockout-race that continues until the best boat remains. Danielle Kruijver jokes: “The world championship should have been two days longer. We could have continued the rising trend to the first place.”
Mark Heimgartner, hydrodynamics engineer: “It was quite exciting as some boats experienced troubles. In the end, we are proud of the fact that we achieved to build a reliable boat that did not fail. I think our result would’ve been better with a little bit more time to test.”
“The boat functioned at all times, without any real problems. We can all be very proud of this,” says Stan van der Wel, team manager.
Among the innovations that the team has introduced this year are the POD engine and the connecting piece between the wings. They distinguished the Blue Manta from the other participating solar boats.
The POD motor is a custom-made electric motor that is placed underwater in a specially designed aluminium housing. The unique value is that the engine is directly cooled by the water, making the driveline more efficient as no gears are required. Mark Heimgartner: “It was a big challenge to get this component working. Consider, for example, that the POD motor needs to be waterproof. This is particularly important in Monaco, because of the saltiness of the water. If saltwater gets to the motor cables, a short circuit may occur, making the motor explode.”
The connecting piece between the bearing wings was also distinctive this year; the connecting piece connects the two halves of the front wing. The team developed this piece mainly because of a hydrodynamically favourable point of view. The water flow is less disturbed compared to wings that have an end.
After the summer, the new team can start building a new solar boat. Van der Wel: “The knowledge gained from last year will be transferred so that better-informed choices can be made. We will ensure that the new team members are well supported and that they can make an even greater contribution to making the maritime industry more sustainable.” Will you take up the challenge next year?