A solar-powered sailboat: Counter-intuitive or just good design?

A solar-powered sailboat: Counter-intuitive or just good design?

Summary: One of the reasons Autodesk became such a dominant provider of computer-aided design software was its decision early on to seed its software in architecture schools and universities. Now, the company is angling to position itself in the field of green product design.

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TOPICS: Software, Telcos
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One of the reasons Autodesk became such a dominant provider of computer-aided design software was its decision early on to seed its software in architecture schools and universities. Now, the company is angling to position itself in the field of green product design.

Its latest awareness/marketing project is sponsorship of a project by PlanetSolar to design and construct a solar catamaran that will be used to circumnavigate the globe during a 25,000-mile, 120-day journey in 2010. The company, based in Germany, will use stops during the trip to promote renewable energy and solar power.

At first I wondered, why does a sailboat need solar power? After all, sailboats under sail are the ultimate green vehicles. But then the words "dead calm" leapt into my mind. And, when there's no cloud cover it certainly is pretty sunny on the ocean.

PlanetSolar is using several products from Autodesk to design the boat including Digital Prototyping features in Autodesk Inventor that will help visualize the impact of design changes. The engineers are also using AutoCAD Electrical and Autodesk Productstream.

Here's a YouTube video about the project.

Topics: Software, Telcos

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6 comments
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  • consider sailor's state of mind

    One sails for the experience and the freedom from fossil fuels. A $40,000 sailboat is capable of sailing around the world and even some as shorter than 10 meters have done so. A multi-million dollar motor cruiser will have a range under 3000 nautical miles and burn many hundreds of gallons of diesel in the process. Sailors choose the sailing lifestyle and will avoid calm areas and times of the year content to anchor for a month or more in some desolate spot like Bali if need be. Solar is great for powering the electronics, which can include the ability to download current weather satellite maps to aid in route planning. But using solar to move a sail boat is silly at best and the kind of thing that only an engineer with no real ties to the sea would consider much less implement. And for people that are really concerned about needing to move on a schedule there are engines on board most sailboats over 25 feet in length and sufficient fuel to take the boat at least several hundred miles, or motor sailors with even great range. Speed is not an issue as sailboat speed, unless they employ planning hulls like a catamaran, is a function of the length of the waterline of the boat with most boats having a maximum speed of 6-9 knots and most will attain their greatest speeds under sail and not under power. I would expect that a "solar powered" cat will do 5 knots with solar power but 20 knots or better with wind power.
    stenman@...
  • RE: A solar-powered sailboat: Counter-intuitive or just good design?

    Solar power has been available for sailboats for countless years. The advantages of today's PV technologies such as thin-film make it easier to deploy the panels in places where ridgid panels won't fit our would easily be broken.

    The use of the solar panel is to power all of the onboard electronics, navigation, radar, LCD displays, laptops, refrigeration on vessels with extended range, and other electrical items such as pumps, lighting, etc. The normal mode on a sailboat is to use the auxiliary diesel drive engine with its alternator to recharge a large bank of batteries.

    Solar can reduce or eliminate the need for diesel based recharging.

    So where do we sign-up to crew on this voyage?
    jpouchet
  • RE: A solar-powered sailboat: Counter-intuitive or just good design?

    I think one should research this before commenting. One look at the vessel - no spars, no sails or other type of airfoils, propellers at the stern of each demihull - makes it obvious tha this is NOT a sailing catamaran.

    Some info from the Planet solar web site:

    "The PlanetSolar crew has a united goal: to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in a ?solar? boat, i.e. one powered by a silent, pollution-free electrical engine, driven exclusively by solar energy."

    "In 2010, the first round-the-world trip powered by solar energy will be realized, with stopovers, along the equator, where the maximum amount of sunlight is available. The over 40,000-km voyage will last 120 days, for an average speed of 10 knots. PlanetSolar's two-man crew will cross the Atlantic Ocean, the Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and finally the Suez Canal, to return to the Mediterranean."

    They will be looking for calm seas and favorable currents. A sailboat sailor would find 4 months of this bo-o-o-o-o-r-r-r-ring.

    djnoser@...
  • RE: A solar-powered sailboat: Counter-intuitive or just good design?

    http://www.solarsailor.com - sailing solar for 8 years with a 100 passenger ferry on Sydney harbor.
    davidwfox
  • Not a German project

    Just for the record, this project is based in Switzerland, not in Germany.
    Which is interesting, considering the amount of coasts Switzerland currently has...
    Goldor0ck
  • Wind is solar!

    duh
    Normal_z