World’s First Electric Car Ferry Recharges in 10 Minutes

From Wired

The world’s first battery electric car ferry is under development in Norway. It’s capable of carrying 120 cars and 360 passengers, and it can fully recharge in just 10 minutes.

Called ZeroCat, the 260-foot ferry will enter passenger service in 2015 on a route between Lavik and Oppedal. The ferry’s electric powertrain was designed by Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand with battery technology from Siemens, and it will be run by ferry operator Norled.

Instead of a 2,000-hp diesel engine — which powers the current ferry and sucks up over 264,000 gallons of fuel each year — ZeroCat features an 800 kW battery that weighs 11 tons and drives two screws. Though the battery is quite heavy, the ship only weighs half as much as a conventional catamaran ferry, thanks to twin hulls made of aluminum. Those hulls are a slim design, which further increases efficiency, with Siemens estimating the ferry will need only 400 kW to cruise at 10 knots.

One design requirement of the ZeroCat is that it can be recharged in between crossings. That only gives Norled about 10 minutes to get the batteries fully charged, which would require too much of the electrical grids (not to mention the cables) in either Lavik or Oppedal. To solve that issue, high-capacity batteries have been installed at each port. Those batteries will slowly recharge while the ship is crossing, and then provide a quick “dump charge” while the ship is loading and unloading passengers and cars.

According to Siemens, ZeroCat could eliminate nearly 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Though it’s only one ferry, it’s an important step for Norway – a country where ferries are absolutely necessary for moving people and freight across short stretches of water, and a country that has made numerous public commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Despite its status as a major oil and gas exporter, nearly all of Norway’s domestic electricity comes from hydropower, so battery-electric ferries offer a clear environmental benefit.

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