Electric propulsion test boat launched

‘PTA81’, the test vessel fitted with the electromobility system ahead of the ‘Älvsnabben 4’ ferry re-build ‘PTA81’, the test vessel fitted with the electromobility system ahead of the ‘Älvsnabben 4’ ferry re-build
Industry Database

Seawork exhibitor Volvo Penta is evaluating a new propulsion system aboard its own test boat ahead of a ferry electrification refit.

The plan is part of the ElectriCity project – a collaboration between industry, academia and local government. Once Volvo Penta has perfected the technology in the smaller test boat photographed here, it will power a new electric-powered ferry that will link both sides of the Göta Älv River.

The ferry – Älvsnabben 4 – will be converted into an electric propulsion vessel in collaboration with its operator, Styrsöbolaget and the Volvo Group. This refit is scheduled to begin in early 2020.

The test vessel – known as PTA81 – may be slightly smaller than the ferry, but it has the same batteries, controllers and electric motors that will be used on the Älvsnabben 4. The technology being tested is not just applicable for ferry operations, it is said to be relevant for most marine electromobility applications, and has been proven elsewhere in the Volvo Group.

PTA81 is one of a fleet of vessels berthed at Volvo Penta’s own testing marina – Krossholmen. The conversion of PTA81 has just been completed and took under four months, and now a period of on-the-water tests begins.

“The conversion itself went smoothly,” said Niklas Thulin, Director Electromobility, Volvo Penta, adding: “We are learning valuable lessons about designing battery rooms and new opportunities with weight distribution, which will give us the ability to better optimize the balance and ride quality of vessels.”

The plan is to start the conversion of the Älvsnabben 4 early next year, with the ambition of the ferry entering service at the end of 2020. While this is underway PTA81 will continue to be tested so that the technology is thoroughly understood and robust before the ferry goes into operation on a public route.

“This gives us time to validate the installation’s performance, noise and vibration levels, as well as its drivability,” explains Thulin. “For sure, the electric driveline will have different dynamics compared to a combustion engine. Our objective is to fine tune these to improve the experience, but not make it so different that the vessel’s crew need to be re-trained.”

By Jake Frith

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