Green vessels

January 20, 2017

With a potential movement into green, environmentally friendly boats dominating the market, it is important to understand what this new approach to boat design means and how it can be beneficial to boat owners in the future. 

In a world where we are becoming increasingly conscious of our environmental impact on the planet, the excessive emissions, draining fuel consumption and toxic chemical contributions that are at the disposal of most contemporary boats is a prominent global factor to be aware of. Making changes into your approach to boating investments in the future, such as eco-friendly power sources and effective foul release coatings can make a serious difference to not only your green footprint, but also your expenditures.

Carbon consequences?

Although moderate levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is normal, it is well documented that excess CO2 emissions can have an extremely detrimental effect on global warming. In direct relation to the boating industry, the ocean plays a key role in maintaining the carbon cycle balance. CO2 absorbed by sea water causes ocean acidification which has been shown to make it more difficult for shellfish like oysters, clams and lobsters to build shells, and also inhibit corals building or maintaining their skeletons. Additionally, the elevation in sea temperatures and water levels caused by warming of the atmosphere can interfere with marine ecosystems.

Considering this, the main cause of these raised CO2 emissions is the carbon-emitting fossil fuel energy sources of which 96% of boats today use. Reducing fuel emissions or by using alternative renewable energy sources is the main method for combatting this highly important issue.

Emerging energy sources?

A number of alternative energy sources currently exist, some of which have been around for decades. Along with the emergence of the energy crises realised in the 1970’s, the need for these renewable fuels has become of paramount importance.

The dominance of the carbon emitting internal combustion engine kick started in the 1920’s, until then, electric boats were chugging away and became very popular as early as the 1880’s. Essentially, boats powered by electricity have been used for 120 years and that technology is being harnessed and developed more intensely in recent times.

Electric-powered vessels have numerous advantages over classic internal combustion engine powered boats. They offer a lower up-front cost for small vessels and potentially the lowest cost of ownership for vessels of all sizes. The instant torque electric drive train means that better acceleration for ski and speed boats can potentially be achieved whilst also providing more opportunity for autonomous navigation, clever stuff! The low-profile cruising ability relating to sound and heat signatures also aids itself to the unobtrusive wildlife tours due to quiet operation. These benefits are also more practically applicable to the military services for avoiding unwanted attention.  

Electric boats accumulate their energy by harvesting sun, waves, tide, and wind by employing solar panels, wind turbines and other devices which are most commonly connected to lithium-ion batteries that drive the electric motors. In absence of these green energy supplies, incorporating self-replenishing hydrogen reservoirs is a recent and very promising addition to the green vessel artillery. This hydrogen fuel system works by using electrolysis equipment which breaks down water to produce its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen; A particularly useful storage of energy when sun and wind influence is scarce. 

Foul release fortunes?

Similarly, to these green energy sources, foul release systems help dramatically reduce carbon emissions and slash your boating expenses over time. Traditional antifoul systems use harmful biocides which poison marine life and are also not as effective at deterring foul, especially in the long term, as foul release systems.

As a result, this means together with a super slippery surface that increases boat speed, a reduction in fuel consumption corresponds to lower CO2 emissions from your boat. While foul release systems are a current viable option to improve your impact on the environment and slash your cruising costs, the initiative for more energy efficient eco-friendly boats is up and coming around the corner with the electric boat market set to reach $20 billion by 2027. It’s an interesting and uplifting concept that could majorly change the boating industry.

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