Eco-Friendly Electric Boat Built with FRP Composites

by Tencom Ltd.

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From outer space to the rolling seas, Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composite components are used in all sorts of vehicles. 

The year 2020 has truly been one filled with advancements for composite materials across many different sectors.

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However, you don’t have to look to the stars to see these advancements in action. RS Electric Boats has built the Pulse58, and it is quite impressive.

ima-rib-electric-motor-electric-thruster-32825The electric inflatable carbon fiber Pulse58 Motorboat is environmentally green

Pic Credit: RS Sailing

The Pulse58 Motorboat

The all-new Pulse58 is an entirely electric, inflatable motorboat manufactured by RS Electric Boats. Along with its sister company, RS Sailing, the two marine-craft manufacturers have been focused on designing sustainable watercraft that produce zero emissions.

The newest addition to the fleet is the Pulse58 which is an electric RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat). Measuring 5.8 meters (19 ft) in length, it can travel for up to 2 hours while maintaining top speeds. If you dial back to cruising speeds of 6 to 8 knots, then you can stay out on the water all day. The maximum weight that the Pulse58 can handle is 575 kg (1,267 lbs), which is approximately six people.

The pultrusion process used to create the FRP composite components of this boat produced strong, lightweight, energy-absorbing pieces. The entire boat is built out of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) core materials, flax fiber, basalt, and bio-based epoxy-infused resin. This allowed the engineers to design a low-speed rag hull, which provides a maneuverable, stable platform for the watercraft.

The Pulse58 is powered by a 57-kWh battery pack that is positioned underneath the floor in a structurally-sound case. Generating 104-volts of energy, this RIB can travel for approximately 35 nautical miles. It also can reach speeds of up to 20 knots (23 mph).

Overnight charging will replenish the energy stores, and you can take the boat out again the next day. The purpose of creating electric boats is similar to the purpose of manufacturing hybrid and electric cars.

Manufacturers have long been looking for a way to produce advanced watercraft that use alternative energy sources. Furthermore, RS Electric Boats has teamed up with Tree Aid to help decrease the company’s carbon footprint even more.

Building the Pulse58

Over 25 years of experience and design have gone into the 2-year building process for the Pulse58 motorboat. The result of all this hard work is the birth of the first-ever fully-electric rigid inflatable boat.

As we touched on briefly before, the hull of the Pulse58 was created for the sole purpose of electric drive. The reduced low-speed drag comes from the long waterline length and the tunnel form of the hull. This design provides instant torque and stable performance.

The 57-kWh battery bank also helps to lower the center of gravity due to its deep placement under the hull. This provides a more comfortable ride experience for passengers. A non-slip cockpit floor and Hypalon tubes provide a long-lasting finish, and the technology inside this motorboat is hard to beat in its class.

Featuring a touch screen multi-function display Raymarine Axion system, the Pulse58 offers advanced navigation and plotting features displayed on a 7-inch touchscreen interface. You can monitor the remaining electric range, power reserve, and all other battery data via the RADLink transmitter.

The information is broadcast via 4G and Bluetooth to the compatible smartphone app, which also enables geofencing (location-based service) for safety and security purposes.

Flax fibers were chosen for their strength and energy-absorbing qualities. Also used on the RS Aero and RS21 sailboats, this type of bio-based, sustainable construction is the wave of the future for watercraft.

Designing the Rim Motor

Another feature that makes this FRP composite boat so special is the rim motor. The propeller blades are connected to the rim of the motor, and they are driven from this location as well. In a typical watercraft motor, the propellers are attached to the central hub.

This is an important distinction because rim motors are generally seen as thrusters used to help with steering on larger boats. Rim motors can also be seen on underwater drones that are controlled remotely.

The rim motor is safer to operate because it is less likely to get snagged on fishing lines. It is also retractable, which allows the Pulse58 to move into shallow water without mucking up the motor or damaging the propellers.

To make the rim motor retractable, engineers used an electric tilt mechanism as an integral part of the control system.

Green from the Inside Out

For the folks over at RS Electric Boats, having a fully-electric motor wasn’t enough to call the Pulse58 a green motorboat. They wanted this watercraft to fit the profile of a green mode of transportation inside and out. This is why they chose to use bio-based fibers and resins during the pultrusion process.

Bio-based resins are just as strong and durable as epoxy resins. The building blocks of epoxy resins have simply been replaced with the building blocks from biomass. This change does not affect the performance of the FRP composite.

In fact, it improves some aspects such as resistance to ultra-violet radiation, which can come in handy while out at sea.

However, bio-based FRP composites are missing one thing the chemical smell. That’s right. FRP composite materials that are made from bio-based fibers do not have the chemical odor that epoxy resins have.

They also retain all of their other resistances that FRP composites have become so popular for including resistance to heat, moisture, impact, insects, the elements, and more.

Specialty Resins at Tencom

Here at Tencom, we take great pride in our FRP composite products. We specialize in fiberglass and specialty resins that can be customized to suit your project needs.

We can add pigments to match your company’s colors, incorporate patterns that match your logo, and even produce various shapes and sizes to suit all sorts of applications.

If you would like to request a quote or learn more about our products, get in touch with our experts today.

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