Ampcontrol develops hybrid diesel-electric boat together with project partners

While hybrid cars are now commonplace on our roads, the development of hybrid boats has been lagging – until now.

A collaborative partnership between Ampcontrol, The University of Newcastle and Steber International has conducted a series of highly successful bench and on-water trials of a hybrid diesel-electric boat prototype.

This week, the 22ft test rig was officially launched on the Manning River in Taree NSW. Made possible through the support of the Federal Government AusIndustry Innovation Connection grants, the hybrid diesel-electric boat project has been in development for two years.

Onboard the test rig, Ampcontrol Managing Director & CEO, Rod Henderson said it was great to get out on the water after extensive research and development and electric power system testing.

“The experience and on-water performance are impressive; there is no vibration; it’s quiet and has excellent torque and speed. It’s great to see another innovative power supply solution designed by the people of Ampcontrol put into practice,” added Mr Henderson.

Initial trials with one person on board attained 20 knots and with seven people on board the speed was 18 knots. With 9.5kVA gen-set installed and carrying a full complement of equipment and crew, a rate of 15 knots was achieved.

Steber International General Manager, Alan Steber said the exciting project has unlimited potential across the entire marine landscape.

“Potential applications include marine park boats, police boats, recreational and leisure boats, harbour foreshore inspection boats, tourist boats, yacht club tenders, security vessels, to name a few. Working with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), we will establish the additional protocols required for commercial vessel registration and use,” added Mr Steber.

Leaders in Australian boat manufacturing and industrial composite technology, Steber International approached Ampcontrol in 2018 requesting assistance to develop a prototype hybrid police boat. Ampcontrol’s leading technology and engineering expertise was applied to leverage the silence of the electric power system to enable a whisper-quiet mode for operations requiring some stealth. The diesel generator design by Ampcontrol provides power support when needed to ensure its operating range is not compromised.

The hybrid diesel/electric propulsion system allows a boat to be power efficient, quiet and be significantly more emission friendly without suffering any loss of cruising range. The application of batteries and an electric motor facilitates a reduction in the size of the diesel engines required, while maintaining the same, or higher, power ratings for the vessel.

“Ampcontrol and the University of Newcastle have added their considerable skills making this a genuinely collaborative effort on all levels. Ampcontrol delivers integrated electrical and electronic solutions, responding to challenges with agility and ingenuity. The University of Newcastle has provided research input right down to the granular level and testing facilities, helping to ensure the project meets the latest Australian safety standards,” commented Mr Steber.

“This project showcases the incredible work that is enabled by university, industry and government partnerships. We have such highly advanced manufacturing capability and ingenuity in our country. It is so important that we collaborate so that we can continue to produce innovative solutions and products here in Australia that make a difference in people’s lives around the globe,” concluded Mr Henderson.