Hybrid Engine Technology Coming to Boating?

Austrian engine manufacturer Steyr Motors GmbH was presented with the DAME award (Design Award METS) for its new hybrid propulsion system at the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS), held in Amsterdam from November 17 to 19, 2008.

Designed for larger cruisers and sailboats, the Steyr Serial Hybrid Propulsion System is similar to the gas/electric systems used in hybrid automobiles. “The motivation for the development of the system resulted from a customer request,” says Steyr chief executive officer, Rudolf Mandorfer. “Customers wanted to be able to quietly leave the marina without disturbing their neighbours with noise and exhaust fumes.”

The hybrid system uses an electric motor supporting a primary diesel powerplant. The electric engine will power medium-sized cruisers by itself at speeds of up to five knots or provide a supplemental boost when additional power is required to get the boat onto a plane. The electric engine produces an output of 7kW at 48 volts and attaches to existing Steyr engines, adding about 75 kg (165.4 pounds) of weight. The electric motor can also be used to start the engine, eliminating the need for a starter motor, and as a generator to charge the vessel's batteries.

The system also won an Innovation Award at the IBEX show in October.