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The importance of cross collaboration for solving industry challenges

16 May 2024

The marine industry is increasingly collaborating with suppliers of automotive batteries, particularly in high-voltage systems, to create more efficient, reliable and powerful propulsion systems for boats and yachts, says Simon Farnfield

WHEN COMPANIES from different sectors work together, they bring much needed perspectives, skills and resources that not only lead to breakthrough technologies, but a quicker route to engineering advancements too. Therefore, I believe that a collective approach is more than just the sum of its parts, it's what accelerates development.

Successful Collaborations 

In keeping with the battery theme, marine companies that partner with battery OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) can ensure their systems are precisely engineered to meet their specific needs, while retaining flexibility in battery selection. 

A notable example of this is the partnership between Torqeedo and BMW, where automotive-grade batteries are being used to power marine vessels. This partnership led to the development of the Deep Blue 80, a high-performance drive with a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery from Torqeedo for its Deep Blue series of high-performance electric drives.

LFP batteries are generally safer compared to other lithium-based batteries because they are more stable and have a lower risk of overheating or thermal runaway. However, they tend to be less energy-dense, making them suitable for marine applications, where safety is a primary concern.  

As reported by Boatshed.com, another collaboration is seeing Ed-TEC partner with battery specialists, e.battery systems (EBS), to create a high-capacity battery with efficient cooling. For context, the "C factor" in batteries is a crucial concept that measures the rate at which a battery can safely charge and discharge its stored energy over time. 

A Question of Capacity

This quantifies the amount of current - typically expressed as a multiple of the battery's capacity - that the battery can handle without causing damage or overheating. For instance, if a battery has a capacity rating of 1C, it means it can discharge its entire capacity in one hour. Conversely, a battery with a rating of 2C can discharge at twice the rate, enabling it to discharge 20 Amps for 30 minutes. 

A higher C factor is crucial for high-power applications like electric marine propulsion, but most battery concepts operate at 2C. Here, an 80 kWh battery provides 160 kW of continuous power, which may not be enough for high-power demands. 

Therefore, Ed-TEC required a 5C rating or higher for significant power output. According to the International Boat Industry, a high-capacity battery with efficient cooling is being designed in partnership with EBS, using oil cooling via a heat exchanger to enable a higher C factor without causing hot spots in cell bonding.

The Role of Advanced Engineering

Events, like Advanced Engineering, play a crucial role in fostering collaboration across industries because it provides a platform where professionals from various sectors can unite to share knowledge and build partnerships. 

In fact, I believe that these events facilitate interactions that might not occur otherwise, which often lead to long-lasting relationships that lay the foundations to tackle complex challenges and create a more advanced future. 

Simon Farnfield is event director at Advanced Engineering

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