Australian hybrid vessel demonstrator moves to next stage of trials

An Australian hybrid-propulsion vessel prototype, a collaborative effort between builder Steber International, Ampcontrol and Newcastle University, with funding support from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, has now entered the stage three development phase.

Stage one involved bench testing at Newcastle University followed by stage two, the recent successful sea trials of the hybrid 6.7-metre on the Manning River at Taree.

“All involved were delighted with the on-water performance,” commented Steber General Manager, Alan Steber. “There was no vibration, extremely good torque and a top speed of 22 knots. Stage three will involve linking electric and diesel propulsion and also include bollard pull testing at various rpm.”

Steber’s initial involvement included manufacturing the fibreglass hull, providing all underwater engineering and trailer transport. Steber research engineer Steve Hunt designed special mounting brackets for the electric motor as well as shafting components. Steber said the underwater engineering and rudder design was critical in minimising drag and maximising efficiency.

The vessel can run all day on one battery bank at 4.3 knots with a second battery bank available for short bursts of speed if and when required. With fast-charging systems on board, batteries can be charged overnight ready for a full day of activities the next day.

“The hybrid vessel will be ideal for use patrolling harbours and inland waterways running on the electric motor, with sustained power for extended bluewater use coming from the diesel engine,” Steber said.

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