The ferries that carry tourists around Niagara Falls have integrated Veth Propulsion by Twin Disc technology to become the first zero-emission, all-electric passenger vessels in North America.
Two Maid of the Mist catamarans each feature two VL-200 L-Drives from Veth Propulsion by Twin Disc. These high-efficiency thrusters are powered by hydroelectric energy stored in lithium-ion batteries and sourced from Niagara Falls itself, making them “a great sustainability statement,” according to Christopher M. Glynn, President of Maid of the Mist Corporation.
When the company decided to replace its two aging diesel vessels with electric boats, Glynn says it was natural to include Twin Disc components.
The electric boats were launched in October 2020, following a lengthy safety review by the US Coast Guard.
The Veth L-Drives enable the ferries to move upriver at a good pace without diesel fumes, view-obstructing exhaust stacks, or any noise to compete with the falls. Glynn remarked that the lack of vibration impressed even the coast guard.
The L-Drives’ 360-degree thrust not only allows the ferries to turn in their own length, but also provides exceptional manoeuvrability to give tourists panoramic views.
Glynn said that crews can “walk” the vessels laterally into the dock, a manoeuvre that is more delicate when executed using a traditional monohull vessel.
The vessels take about seven minutes to charge between trips, as passengers disembark and board. Each Maid of the Mist ferry is rated for 600 passengers, and together the two boats carry about 1.6 million people a year.
The compact design of the L-Drives helps maximise available space on the ferries.
While Glynn said the decision to go electric was based on protecting the Niagara River rather than saving fuel, the L-Drives do offer higher efficiency, robust reliability, and a long service life with minimal maintenance.
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