Europe’s largest ecological catamaran sets sail
By Ben Coxworth
April 15, 2011
It may be 24 meters (79 feet) long, 10.5 meters (34.5 feet) wide and be able to carry up to 150 passengers, but the Eco Slim seagoing catamaran produces less of a carbon footprint than vessels much smaller than itself. There are two main reasons for this – its electric motors, which are powered by several onboard renewable sources, and its lightweight, streamlined hull, that allows it to move through the water using a minimum amount of energy. Created by Spain's Drassanes Dalmau shipbuilders and launched on March 31st, it's officially Europe's largest "green" catamaran.
The Eco Slim's two electric motors are powered by a bank of 90 lead acid batteries. Those batteries are in turn charged by two onboard wind turbines, an array of 40 deck-mounted monocrystalline solar panels, and/or a diesel-electric thermal generator. An electronic management system regulates these different power sources, and is accessed via two screens (one of them a touchscreen) built into the catamaran's control panel. In order to operate autonomously, both the electronic management system and the navigation instruments are powered by a dedicated lead acid battery and a 2 kW hydrogen fuel cell.
Unlike traditional hulls, the Eco Slim's was built in two halves – port and starboard – which were then joined together. It is also the first hull to be built in Spain using a vacuum infusion system. These innovations resulted in a hull that is reportedly half as heavy as conventional models. Because of its hydrodynamic design, it is also said to offer 20 percent less resistance when cutting through the water.
With its various power sources and light, slippery hull, the Eco Trim can sail continuously for four hours at 6 or 7 knots, with a top speed of 12 knots – the batteries can be recharged in about 90 minutes. While such performance might not be perfect for all applications, the boat is intended mainly for use in the tourism industry ... and the tourists will no doubt appreciate the lack of engine noise.
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