Cleaner Quieter Propulsion

By: Jane Swan, The Green Blue

Green Blue

Hybrid propulsion for boats has been around for a surprisingly long time, with Royal Thames Yacht Club member Jack Delmar-Morgan, an early pioneer in electrical engineering and the automotive retail business, creating a truly unique yacht back in 1912.

‘Mansura’ was designed to run selectively under petrol, electric or sail power alone, or under any combination of these sources.

The petrol engine could be started electrically and the yacht was equipped with electric lighting, cooking and water heating systems. The hybrid power train delivered 9 knots under petrol power, between five and eight knots under electric power and 11 knots under both – but just as impressive was the silent running and ease of operation and manoeuvrability.

It was therefore only fitting that the Royal Thames Mansura Trophy was created and first awarded in 2007 to recognise Jack’s contribution and to encourage even further technological innovation and production across the world.

100 years on and from a record number of 14 entries from marine companies across the globe, award winners were announced at the Royal Thames Yacht Club headquarters in London’s Knightsbridge on 21 March.

With the competition supported by Bosch Engineering GmbH, the quality and diversity of entrants was the most interesting and far ranging since the Trophy’s inception; a reflection of the importance now placed on hybrid technologies and energy saving in the marine sector.

Winner of the Trophy was Seaway Yachts based in Begunje, Slovenia, for pioneering work on the development of the Greenline 33 Hybrid and Greenline 40 Hybrid. Seaway also picked up two awards in the Offshore category for the production and execution of the two designs; the first company ever to scoop three awards. Runner-up to Seaway was Solar Sailor Holdings from Sydney for the hybrid element of the Hong Kong Jockey Club fleet of catamaran ferries.

In the Inland category the Technology Award went to Bristol Hydrogen Boats for its work to develop the UK’s first hydrogen-powered passenger ferry, Hydrogenesis; the result of a consortium effort of Bristol Hydrogen Boats Ltd, led by Auriga Energy, with the Bristol Packet and No 7 Boats. With the ferry being electrically powered from a hydrogen fuel cell, the only waste product is water with the result being a clean and quiet vessel that doesn’t burn fossil fuels.

Runner Up in this category was Grove Boats SA for the Solar Sea Cleaner 400, a cleaning boat that collects floating waste (including plastics, polystyrene, algae, wood) and stores it on board in a dedicated container. A mechanism for the skimming of hydrocarbons is also possible. As it runs on energy from solar pvs, it is, in short, ‘a clean, cleaning boat!’

Mixing the old with the new prompted the Mansura Trophy Trustees to make a special discretionary award to the River Stour Trust for their painstaking restoration of the 120 year old Stour Lighter, the John Constable, a horse-drawn barge named after the artist that was used to transport coal, bricks, lime, flour and wheat, between Sudbury and Mistley. Taken out of service in 1914, it had decayed in mud and silt until it was lifted and restoration began. Only about 10 percent of the original 14m boat remains, but traditional materials have been used for its restoration and is now believed to be the oldest craft equipped with hybrid power.

And last but not least, the Royal Thames Mansura Medal, given to honour the greatest contribution to hybrid propulsion in the preceding two years, was awarded to the European Commission for its support of the Icomia HyMar project designed to develop state-of-the-art marine hybrid systems for displacement vessels of up to 24m.

Encouragingly, winners of previous Mansura Trophy awards have gone on to develop their hybrid technologies into commercially viable products, showing that demand is increasing for cleaner, quieter and more efficient methods of propulsion with much of the innovation soon finding its way into mainstream boat design and manufacture.

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