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E-drive: Sailing trip with additional thrust

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Frank Thoma, July 31, 2020
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Frank Thoma has been corporate editor at ZF since 2011. With a degree in journalism, he has been planning, writing and editing articles for all of the company’s internal, external media.
Propulsion and manoeuvring assistance without emissions: In an innovation ship, ZF is testing a fully electric propulsion system for sailing yachts which works together with ZF‘s Steerable Pod Propulsion system.

Docking, casting off, and maneuvering safely even in narrow harbors - all this without noise and exhaust emissions. This is made possible by a new electric drive system from ZF, which is combined with the Steerable Pod Propulsion system (SPP). Thanks to the e-propulsion system, it is now also possible to enter harbors which are banned for diesel-powered sailing yachts due to environmental regulations.
Zero noise, zero emissions: ZF has been testing a purely electric propulsion system since September 2019 in an innovation vessel on Lake Garda.

Bonus: Increased manoeuvrability

Bonus: Increased manoeuvrability

In addition, the speed of the electric motor is precisely controllable. This makes docking even safer in strong crosswinds or currents. The electric motor of the drive has a maximum output of 125 kilowatts. It connects to the ZF Steerable Pod Propulsion system (SPP) by ZF. Its maneuverability is further improved by the smooth control of the electric motor without clutches. When developing this high-end induction motor, the engineers were able to draw on synergy effects within the Group, says Massimiliano Cotterchio, Head of Sales Pleasure Craft Product Line: "We use the same platform and many of he same system components our company already uses successfully and widely in other applications".
The Steerable Pod Propulsion system (SPP) makes docking considerably easier for skippers on sailing yachts.

Testing in the innovation ship on Lake Garda

Testing in the innovation ship on Lake Garda

Since September 2019, ZF has already been testing this electric propulsion system concept under real-life conditions in an innovation ship on Lake Garda in Italy. The design of this prototype is similar to the planned series application. The yacht is equipped with a 60 kWh lithium-ion battery. This enables the ship to achieve an average sustained speed of almost seven knots (13 km/h) with a range of approximately 30 nautical miles (55.5 km). The battery pack with its own cooling system is positioned at the stern.