Boat Design

Engine technology to watch for

With the recent release of the final report of Nigel Calder's HyMAR project, marine internal combustion / electric hybrid powertrains are making waves once again- and not necessarily in a good way, as Calder's team found that the benefits of the expensive hybrids were limited to a relatively narrow, low-speed operating regime. We've known for quite a while that the major advantages of gas/electric and diesel/electric hybrid cars- namely, instant start/stop and regenerative braking- don't apply to boats. We've also known for quite a while that hybrid systems only make economic sense aboard ship if the house loads are comparable to, or larger than, the power required for main propulsion.

Tech addicts need not fear, though: There are many other fuel-saving and pollution-reducing technologies waiting in the wings, and hybrids aren't quite out of the running yet.

Boat manuals need to include electrical schematics and software details

Good drawings take time to make. Time costs money. Therefore, good drawings are not cheap.

Some boat builders seem to think that this logic leads to a fourth point: "Therefore, we will not include drawings."

Er, guys? Not cool. Seriously, not cool. Just see what happens the very first time the owner has to have something fixed, and the technician spends most of a day rooting around in the bilges trying to figure out where the hell all the wires are going.

Do fibreglass and carbon fibre mix?

"Let's put carbon fibre in there," says the marketing director. "That stuff's stronger. And I can sell it as a high-end feature."

"Yup, yup," replies the shop foreman. "We can do that. It's a bit pricey though, maybe we could use just a bit of it mixed with the fibreglass."

Fast forward three years, and both men are scratching their heads over why the component- which was, according to the designer, more than strong enough in fibreglass alone- has failed catastrophically even though they added a "better" material.

TL;DR: Mixing different fibres in the same load path can lead to a component being weaker than it would be if only one type of fibre had been used.


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