We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-19-2013 Thread Starter
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We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat

Hello,

I start an activity whose purpose is to design a hydro generator for cruising sailboat.

it is a system that is placed in the back of a sailboat and generates electricity to recharge the batteries when the boat is moving.
Its characteristic is to produce electricity with a low fluid velocity and with very little inertia, which is interesting for cruising yachts in slow motion.

We will start the production of prototypes.

To best meet the needs of boaters we posted a questionnaire that you can find here:

https://fr.surveymonkey.com/s/YX36P9V"]https://fr.surveymonkey.com/s/YX36P9V

If you'll take a few minutes to answer this questionnaire, your help will be very valuable.

I should add that I know the legitimate reluctance of forums to host commercial communications. I took contact with the board administrator one month ago to ask if there could be a problem with this message on the forum. As I did not get an answer, I take the liberty to send it.
If this is a problem I will remove it.

Sincerely.
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-19-2013
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Re: We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat

Your link did not work for me.

I will state however that the electricity would essentially be produced by wind power, the wind on the sails moves the boat, the motion through the water drives the generator. I would never be interested because this would produce drag, slowing the sailing. Some sailboat owners pay extra to have a folding prop to reduce drag. That is also why we make sure our hull bottoms are clean.

Why not drag it behind a power boat? Because it would be just an inefficient way to use the motor's power to produce electricity. In the same way I would not be interested in turning my sailboats forward motion into electricity, I'm interested in having as much forward motion as possible.

Solar panels are my ideal solution.
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-19-2013
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Re: We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat

I have read that the hydro generators are used on a large sailboat (one off) made in South Africa.

Also there is a speculative project for them in the East River NYC USA. Keep looking around.

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post #4 of 8 Old 09-19-2013
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Re: We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat

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Originally Posted by skygazer View Post
I will state however that the electricity would essentially be produced by wind power, the wind on the sails moves the boat, the motion through the water drives the generator. I would never be interested because this would produce drag, slowing the sailing. Some sailboat owners pay extra to have a folding prop to reduce drag. That is also why we make sure our hull bottoms are clean.
You should probably tell that to guys like Alex Thompson :-)



Virtually every boat in the last Vendee Globe was using a hydrogenerator from Watt & Sea, I'd love to have the budget for one...

Hydrogénérateurs Watt&Sea : votre voilier autonome en énergie |

My towed water generator is one of my favorite bits of gear, generating far more amps at hull speed than either my wind, or solar... And, it will do so around the clock... The drag is negligable, I would guess a tenth or two-tenths of a knot, max...

Hydro is definitely the way to go underway, IMHO, I'm always surprised water generators are not more common on today's cruising boats...
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-19-2013
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Re: We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat

I'll bite. Why not connect a generator to the prop shaft and generate electricity that way?

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post #6 of 8 Old 09-19-2013
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Re: We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat

First off, here's the link, corrected... https://fr.surveymonkey.com/s/YX36P9V

Second, some people do, in fact, use the spinning prop to generate electricity. The problem with that--the reason it isn't used more frequently--is that every installation is a one-off sort of situation. You can't just bolt a generic generator in there. You have to fit it to your engine room, your engine arrangement, your prop shaft, that sort of thing. Not a HUGE amount of effort, but not quite as easy as bolting a bit of kit to your transom and tossing a prop on a rope overboard.

Third, when you are going at hull speed you can drag all kinds of things behind you and it will make almost no difference in your SOG. At that point the bow wave is creating a whole lot more drag than a generator could ever hope to. Even towing a dinghy won't really slow you down, if it is windy enough that you are making hull speed.

BUT! When the wind dies down and you are trying to squeeze a few extra knots of boat speed out of 5-6 knots of wind... That's a whole different matter. That's when you would definitely notice a generator (or the prop from your auxiliary) slowing you down. Which is why any towed generator needs to be relatively easy to deploy and retrieve, so that you can bring it in easily when you don't want the drag.
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-19-2013
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Re: We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat

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I'll bite. Why not connect a generator to the prop shaft and generate electricity that way?
Because a propeller is designed to push water, not be lifted by it. It's camber and pitch are exactly reverse what they need to be for efficient power generation. We are talking fractional horsepower, here: the best of the breed, the W&S mentioned by Jon, produce 1/3 to 2/3 hp (250-500W) at full tilt. Maybe a thousand sqft of sail driving 5-10 tons of boat, you get the equivalent of 15-40A from the best-engineered, purpose-built hydrogenerator out there.

ANYTHING that adds suckness to the equation will destroy that output. Poorly designed rotor; belts, pulleys, or gearboxes; transmission drag; trying to use a wind turbine in water; or so on, or so on. Some large vessels have used a drive shaft to some effect, esp with the Autoprop, whose blades can be rotated into a lifting configuration. Broadly speaking, a hydrogen has to built from square one for that express purpose, or it will suck.

You can't generate electricity for your home by setting a box fan outdoors, either. Sorry. Physics does not care what you want to be true.

Good things about hydrogenerators:

* They make good, steady watts on passage, keeping your AP, nav gear, and possibly radar going w/out burning diesel.
* Not as affected by rolling or apparent wind or shadowing as wind gens.
* Weight & drag down low & aft.

Bad things about hydro-gens:

* They do zilch at anchor, on a mooring, or in a slip -- where sailors spend 90% of their time.
* They are less useful coastal cruising, as the hops tend to be short and motoring is common.
* They are an electrical appliance submerged in salt water. Doh! Reliability has historically been poor. Many VG boats had trouble with the electrics, debris strikes, or prop fouling.

We all welcome any entrant into the field of sailboat renewable energy. But the physics has to be there! If the OP's prototype doesn't look quite a lot like the W&S, it's automatically suspect. There's good reason all (modern) commercial wind turbines have three blades on a horizontal axis. Design converges toward what works. There is probably a small market beyond RTW racers: some hardcore passagemakers, some gear junkies for whom cost is no barrier. Most coastal sailors will find $4-6000 USD for a power source that only works for the <10% of the time their boat is actually sailing to be poor economics. With PV power densities improving and prices below $3/watt....

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Last edited by bobmcgov; 09-19-2013 at 11:39 AM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-19-2013
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Re: We look for the opinion of sailors to design an hydrogénérat

Watching Yves Gelinas' Jean de Sud video about his Cape Horn windvane and his circumnavigation, he had the problem of large fish mistaking the tow-behind propellers for fishing lures:-) He lost a couple of the prop units to big fish taking a bite and had to rebuild his last one on board with epoxy and odds and ends. So that presents another potential problem with this type. I can definitely imagine a Tuna, billfish, or even a large Bluefish striking one of these although they really look like the least complicated design.

Alberg 35: With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.
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