eFerry powered by Belgian batteries


Electric road transport is not the only growing sector; the same can be said about electric waterborne transport. This is demonstrated by the first ferry powered by batteries made in Belgium. Turnhout-based Leclanché supplied the innovative battery bank powering the BB Green ferry.

Quiet and environmentally friendly; zero CO2 emissions, and definitely huge fuel savings. There are great advantages to electric waterborne transport. Especially when the batteries supplying the necessary current are integrated intelligently into the boat.

“We have developed and built a first battery pack into a ferry,” says Maxime Smets, project manager for the development integration of the battery pack in the European BB Green project. “And the second eFerry on which Leclanché collaborated has recently been launched.”

Belgian batteries and innovation

The energy supply for the BB Green is a Belgian project, initially started under Emrol and continued by the team of Leclanché Belgium. The commuter ferry was built as a prototype with European subsidies and has been sailing in Riga since April, and will soon be in Stokholm. She can reach top speeds of up to 55km per hour.

Several new technologies make the BB Green a unique project. “There is a large cavity under the hull topped by a large lift fan, a technology called ASV or Air Supported Vessel,” explains Maxime Smets. “The pressurized air blown into the cavity creates a ‘cushion of air’ between hull and water, which reduces wetted surface areas underneath the hull, and thus resistance. Since the boat is made entirely of carbon sandwich, weight and resistance are significantly lower.”

Plain sailing with 200 kWh battery bank

Leclanché is responsible for one of the top technologies integrated the craft: the rechargeable Lithium Ion Titanate battery (LOT) bank. With this technology, the batteries recharge to 95% capacity in a mere 15 minutes.

“Perfect timing for when passengers are embarking and disembarking,” adds Smets. “This allows the battery to have capacity for only one crossing, which constitutes huge financial and weight savings in relation to batteries. The battery module is also quite compact: the 200 kWh are produced by only 8m3 of batteries. Were fast charging not possible, the whole boat would be full of batteries.”

Since the ferry does not have to be docked for long, she can sail almost continuously. “Similarly, our robots can work 24/7 because they are recharged in only 10 minutes,” compares Smets.

3.78 million litres of diesel saved

Leclanché predicts a bright future for these vessels. Huge savings can be achieved, with regard to diesel consumption for instance. If this ferry were powered by diesel, over a period of service of 15 years, it would consume no less than 3.78 million litres of diesel, based on 12 trips a day, 350 days a year. A comparable conventional diesel-powered ferry consumes a whopping 6.18 million litres of diesel.

In comparison, the electricity used to navigate over a period of 15 years will be 15.9 million kWh.

Keen to develop this future, Leclanché, which has R&D facilities in Belgium, has established a strong partnership with electric ferry propulsion expert Echandia Marine in the context of this project. As well as with SES Europe (http://www.seseu.com), owner of the ASV technology and project leader.

Other Leclanché companies are also involved in the development of the world’s largest electric ferry. This eFerry will soon be launched.

For more information, please read the article Leclanché to provide 4.2 MWh Li-ion battery pack to Green Ferry Project electric ferryboat.