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World’s largest solar-powered boat in world record circumnavigation attempt


November 23, 2010

The TURANOR PlanetSolar embarks on its record breaking circumnavigation attempt (Image: PlanetSolar)

The TURANOR PlanetSolar embarks on its record breaking circumnavigation attempt (Image: PlanetSolar)

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The world’s largest solar-powered boat – TÛRANOR PlanetSolar – departed from Monaco on September 27 in an attempt to become the first boat to circumnavigate the globe using only solar energy. Aside from getting another world record under the boat’s belt, the aim of the expedition is to demonstrate that, through the use of existing materials and technology, high-performance solar mobility can be realized today.

The multihull vessel is covered in 537 square meters (5,780 sq ft) of solar panels, which power the four electric motors (two in each hull) that have a maximum output of 120 kW and can propel the boat to a speed of 14 knots. Although the vessel is capable of hosting 40 passengers and is destined to be used as a luxury yacht after the circumnavigation attempt, the vessel is crewed by just six people and that is the number that will be making the round the world journey.

The 31 m (102 ft) long, 15 m (49 ft) wide vessel was built by Kiel-based boatbuilding firm, Knierim Yachtbau, using light yet durable carbon-sandwich construction. In total, 20.6 tons of carbon fiber, 11.5 tons of foam core and 23 tons of resin and hardener were used to create the craft, whose 537 square meters of solar panels consists of a total of 825 modules, equipped with 38,000 individual photovoltaic cells made by SunPower Corp. The energy they capture is stored in six blocks, each containing 12 lithium-ion batteries.

The vessel is driven by two contra-rotating carbon propellers that each have a diameter of almost two meters (6.6 ft), which is twice the usual size for a craft of the TÛRANOR PlanetSolar’s size. As only half the propeller is underwater, a “wheel effect” is created which makes it possible to steer the ship without a rudder.

At the time of publication, the TÛRANOR PlanetSolar had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and was just north of Cuba, making its way towards its next planned stopover in Miami. Other planned stops for the PlanetSolar team include Cancun, San Francisco, Sydney, Singapore, Abu Dhabi before finishing in Monaco sometime in 2011.

Via Slashgear

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

The firs sentence should end \"using only photo voltaic power\" as all ocean travel before steam was solar powered. You see, the sun heats the earth unevenly and .......

Mark Evans

Wind and sometimes oars ... but I wish this effort all success. Tankers and container ships might save considerable fuel with \'detached\' sails, but naval vessels require a quick \'clearing of the decks\' - a PV deck could augment a warship\'s fuel savings, a kind of half-nuclear propulsion unit without the radiation problem. The US military uses an incredible amount of oil (one gallon of fuel in the tanks of our troops\' vehicles in Afghanistan costs an unbelievable $40 and the Air Force is reported to use more than any other entity in the country)! And more importantly, NOT needing so much oil could dramatically reduce our need for so many military bases around the world. Its not just our cars, trucks and homes that require so much ...


IEC Fusion is the more likely answer to Naval Propulsion. They\'re already working on it.

Photovoltaic is \'nice\', but my impression is that it\'s still going to be impractical for normal uses.

Yeah, Mark, I thought about wind when it said \"using only solar energy\", too....

James Dugan

I think a wind-photovoltaic hybrid might be a good combination. I am talking about the large type of kite that is starting to be used, not sails because sails would block sunlight.

Adrian Akau

It look to like those outboard panels would be very vulnerable in a storm. I would be inclined to use the Solar electricity to make H20 to drive small steam turbines. It would cost a lot less & would be a lot faster. You could probably cut panels by 40% ?.

John M

yes , it\'s quite obvious that the world wide network of american airbases and sattelite networks just is not enough to dominate the entire world, we need a network of easy-loitering that means ambient powered, naval platforms (barges boats bouys and floating runways) and floating air platforms including solar powered perma loitering wings/kites and floating blimps/balloons.

yes....this is where we\'re going. this is no joke. it is being rolled out as we speak, and it will work better than you can imagine.

Facebook User

Power from green waste instead of corn ethanol would give us a much higher ratio of about 6/1 vs corn that is human and animal feed. No money in lack of subsidies. Power does not have to be photo electric. Synthetic fuels would fill a huge gap in fuels and plastic products that fill 80% of our homes.

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