ABB drives for full-electric workboat

The fully-electric workboat Evoy 1 features an ABB HES880 drive. (Image: ABB)The fully-electric workboat Evoy 1 features an ABB HES880 drive. (Image: ABB)

Electrification among small vessels and workboats is an area of rapid innovation at the moment. One example of innovation is a fully-electric fish farming boat, Evoy, which is possibly the world’s fastest serial-production craft of its type. At the heart of Evoy’s electric propulsion system is an ABB drive.

Fully-electric workboat

The Evoy is a fully-electric fish farming boat. It was the designed by Leif A Stavøstrand, a Norwegian fish farmer who wanted to design a new type of electric boat for his industry. He noted the specialized boats used in the industry still rely on diesel.

To overcome this challenge, Leif began investigating more environmentally friendly designs. His first design was based on a catamaran with electric motors located within the foils. With his father’s help, Leif decided to turn this idea into a real product, and they started looking for industrial equipment and solutions to start the build.

After exploring the market for several years, Leif realized that the right solution did not exist, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. He resigned as CEO of Saga Fjordbase in Florø and started a new company, Evoy, to develop marine electric propulsion systems.

Evoy’s goal is to eliminate boating emissions and make boats 100 percent electric. The company offers turn-key systems which can be installed in new boats and retrofitted into old boats. At this point in the design process, Evoy had decided on batteries and motors, but it needed a system to make them work together. This is where ABB’s HES880 electric drive come in as with its high vibration tolerance (4 g continuous and 30 g shock) and IP67 rating, it offers the rugged, reliable performance demanded by arduous and hostile marine environments.

HES880 drive offers different operating modes

When used in inverter mode, the drive controls the torque and speed of the motor. When used in DC/DC mode, it can control the DC-link voltage to the batteries. Using the motor control platform, direct torque control (DTC), the drive controls induction, permanent magnet, synchronous reluctance and internal permanent magnet motors. DTC also extends the same control benefits to generator mode.

The drive’s sealed IP67 protection repels moisture and corrosive agents and can be operated from -40 to +85ºC including 100 percent humidity. The drive is liquid cooled, using water/glycol or oil which is supplied by standard or existing cooling systems, enabling input temperatures as high as 70ºC. The HES880 is an ideal solution for skid or deck mount.

ABB’s proven DTC provides open loop control which reduces the need for external encoders. This reduces installation costs and there is less equipment that could cause a system failure. The drive’s active supply unit allows for full power flow during motoring and generating. No external brake resistor is needed and its low harmonic footprint exceeds marine requirements. The drive has the ability to boost motor voltage during supply dips without interruption to the process. The HES880 can store and release energy via batteries or super-capacitors. This provides peak power supply in active heave applications, greatly reducing power required from the vessel, or in a ‘blackship’ incident, where a safe and controlled stop can be achieved using energy stored in batteries.

The drive is easy to install, which is important for retrofitting boats which currently use internal combustion engines. It can be programmed from its intuitive high resolution control panel or through a USB port with the PC tool, Drive Composer. All of this can be done off site. Once commissioned all data is stored to the removable memory unit for ease of replacement and recommissioning.

Finding the HES880 drive was the final piece of the puzzle, and Leif’s new vessels are ready to sell to fish farmers. He believes that the simplicity and reliability of electric propulsion is a perfect fit for this niche market which requires extremely resilient boats.

Operating at up to 25 knots for one hour

In normal operation at speeds up to 25 knots, the onboard rechargeable batteries will allow Evoy-1 to operate for around one hour. At much lower speeds of 4 to 5 knots, the operating time increases to several hours. The boat can be fully charged in 30 minutes using a high-speed charger. As well as operating as a local service boat in the aquaculture industry, the Evoy design could find many other applications in tourism and harbour sightseeing.

In the future, Evoy aims to move beyond building boats to become a full system supplier. Leif’s next idea is to extract data from the boats to develop an ‘improvement loop’: a cloud-based solution for remote monitoring, data collection and analysis.

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