The quest for low-emission, low-noise city passenger services has inspired Albatross Marine Design’s (AMD’s) latest boat concept, which has been developed to use the sun’s rays to power its electrical propulsion system. Likened to an “intercity bus” in function, the rooftop of the AMD 20, or ‘Ecomaran’, would incorporate a 135m2 solar panel spread, to harness some 30kW worth of sunshine. As such, AMD managing director Albert Nazarov explains, the vessel type is particularly suited to urban waterways in countries with tropical climates, such as Thailand, Australia and Dubai, to name just a few.
Flexible in configuration, the Ecomaran has been designed to carry between 100 and 120 passengers, depending on the layout selected. Passengers would embark and disembark via the side gates while the onboard passageways and access areas have been designed with wheelchair users in mind. A bow ramp, meanwhile, will facilitate bow or beach loading, while the aft and bow decks would offer bicycle storage space.
The design incorporates a main saloon with 88 seats, with an option for a business-class lounge at the aft deck. The ‘bus-styled’ nature of the concept means that bars and kiosks haven’t been included in the initial design, though Nazarov adds: “If a client is interested in having these, why not?” The minimalistic nature of the layout provides advantages such as roomy public spaces and natural airflow, as well as reducing overall vessel weight and simplifying maintenance and repair procedures.
The solar panels would supply power to one or two electric motors, each rated 135kW, with model types again dependent on the customer’s preferences. Nazarov adds: “Any shading of the solar panels is unfavourable; thus, the pilothouse was designed to be level with the main saloon.” The electric motors will enable a transit speed of 10knots, which would include “a lot of stops and manoeuvring”, he continues. “We expect up to eight hours of operation in the mode without recharging the batteries.” For enhanced manoeuvrability, the propulsion units would be kept widely separated, while an onboard genset would provide a source of reserve power in the event of an emergency, or should extra ‘kick’ be required.
Another challenge was to restrict the Ecomaran’s weight, to achieve the desired amount of energy efficiency without sacrificing performance. We could use pure carbon fibre,” says Nazarov, “but it’s well understood that a commercial boat of this type will encounter bumping and floating debris daily, so we needed something more durable.” Consequently, and drawing from its previous experience in this field, AMD opted for fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) based on coremat for a light but strong hullform, while lighter sandwich structures were selected for the roof and interior.