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Hybrid electric/diesel motors on Lagoon catamaran

by Sardin media on 21 Nov 2007
Vicsail - copyright
The Australian launch of the new Lagoon 420 Hybrid catamaran was held at the CYCA on Thursday of last week. The event was hosted by Vicsail: the Australian importers and distributors of the Lagoon range of catamarans. Vicsail’s Nick Bedggood said that the hybrid electric motors represent a way forward for environmentally conscious boaties and those seeking to reduce their fuel costs. And for those dreaming of a greener future, this particular boat is the world’s first carbon neutral production yacht.

Bedggood explained that although hybrid engine systems, incorporating diesel or electrical propulsion systems, were nothing new on large vessels this is the first time that this specific technology has been incorporated into a production vessel.

‘The really new and exciting bit about this technology is the capacity for the vessel to regenerate power into the battery packs via the propellers spinning.’

‘Once the catamaran gets up over six knots you move into what’s called regeneration mode; the props start spinning and that starts recharging the battery bank without the need for the generator. You have a silent ride and you are actually recharging your batteries at the same time.’

This switch into regeneration mode happens automatically; it’s this interconnection of the generator, batteries and electric motors which forms the basis of the Lagoon hybrid system. Once the boat reaches a certain speed, usually about five or six knots, the system takes control of the free spinning props, slows them down and utilises the drag from the forward motion of the boat to generate an electrical charge.

Once the output exceeds 25 amps per hour, the props are allowed to gradually increase their rpm until they are spinning freely again. This reduces the amount of electricity being generated and prevents the batteries from overcharging. If the batteries are at 80% charge the generator will start automatically in order to recharge them and once they reach 100% the system will shut the generator down.

‘These are Leroy Somers industrial electric engines, and they’re used in things like electric trains, so in terms of their capacity to do hard work they’re long proven. The advantage of the electric engine in terms of maintenance is that at 10,000 hours you replace the bearing and that is all you need to worry about.’

‘The only maintenance you need to carry out is on the Gen Set at the manufacturer’s guidance.’

Bedggood said that one of the great things about the design was its ability to minimise fuel costs. He observed that two boats had already been brought by powerboat owners and is expecting further sales if oil prices continue to ‘go north’.

‘We’re using roughly half the fuel in that mode and that’s even when you’re using the Gen Set a lot. So it’s 50% off the cost of fuel, it’s 50% in carbon emissions so it’s pretty relevant at the moment with the green focus of the world.’

And it’s not only the opportunity to reduce fuel costs which is attracting powerboaters to the Lagoon 420. Bedggood commented that the layout of the catamaran, with the saloon and the cockpit being on the same level, was a similar arrangement to many power vessels. Coupled with the vessel’s high internal volume, luxurious interior and ‘liveability’ it’s not surprising that one owner recently sold his million dollar powerboat and purchased a Lagoon 420 Hybrid instead.

The vessel that is currently on display at the CYCA’s ‘pond’ exemplifies what people mean when they talk about a liveable boat. After the Sydney Boat Show, and at the new owner’s request, the catamaran went through an extensive modification process which introduced a range of features which were convenient, beautiful or entertaining.

In the beautiful category is a hand laid teak deck, completed at Vicsail’s Rushcutters Bay facility and striking under water lighting. Deck mounted courtesy lights are a convenience and an extremely high tech sound system could properly be described as either luxurious or just plain fun.

‘It’s really cool; there are speakers everywhere. There are speakers at the front of the boat so people sitting on the trampoline can listen to the music. The stereo system can isolate three zones so people at the front can listen to music and people at the back can turn it off.’

It’s this kind of high tech thoughtful appliance that could make family cruising of the future a whole different experience. Parents with teenage kids will no longer have the Johnny Cash versus Green Day debate: you can happily listen to both.

Bedggood said that the other very special feature about this vessel, other than its extensive modifications, is that the environmental impact of its production has been offset via the use of carbon credits.

‘It’s the first production yacht in the world to be carbon neutralised.’

‘In preparation for the Sydney Boat Show, we approached a carbon credit trading organisation and asked them to make it carbon neutral: we neutralised the carbon emissions for that boat. The emissions that went into the atmosphere to produce the boat, to transport the vessel to Australia and for ten years of usage; we purchased carbon credits to offset all those carbon emissions.’

With fuel costs continuing to rise and a population which is increasingly environmentally conscious, Vicsail is expecting to sell a total of at least twenty Lagoon 420 Hybrids by the end of 2008. The three cabin owner’s version starts at a base price of $820,000 and this includes a 17.5 kva Onan Gen Set. A four cabin charter version starts from a base price of $827,000.

There is also the option of twin 40 hp diesel engines instead of the hybrid system: $805,000 base price for the four cabin charter version and $799,000 for the three cabin owner’s version, but this doesn’t include the Gen Set.

For more information or to arrange a viewing of the Lagoon Hybrid 420 contact:

Vicsail Pty Limited
d’Albora Marinas
New Beach Road, Rushcutters Bay NSW 2027, Australia
Telephone: + 61 2 9327 2088
Fax: +61 2 9362 4516

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