The fact that electric buses developed and manufactured in Klaipėda have been running and transporting passengers in Klaipėda for more than one year is no longer surprising. However, an electric boat that performed a test sailing a couple of weeks ago is still hot news. And that is the news worth celebrating and being proud of, because the idea of an electric ship was born and realised here, in Klaipėda.
Its designers and builders (from electrical system to design) are KU ship engineering Master’s students Tomas Žapnickas and Evaldas Narušis, a specialist of ship electronics, hydrographer, and presently maintenance engineer of KU research vessel Mintis. The boat was built on the premises of the Marine Research Institute of KU. “Our goal was to create an electric boat and show that it was possible to have a good time on the water – to sail without noise, without the smell and smoke typical of oil-powered boats, without lubricants and without the risk of pollution”, says Tomas Žapnickas.
The boat was built on the hull of a former lifeboat, after its restoration and the development of an electrical control system and design. Its length is 8.5 m, body width is 2.93 m, draft is 0.65 m, electric motor power is 15 kW continuous (30 kW short-term), and battery capacity is 60 kWh. The boat can carry 12 passengers at a time and sail 92 km with one charge.
The shipbuilders have already tested it on the Danė River. “The boat is intended for short-distance voyages. Of course, we can sail to both Juodkrantė and Nida, she will perfectly cover the distance, but on a longer route people will simply lack conveniences”, says Evaldas Narušis.
The shipbuilders say the boat’s image will still change after the winter. After the tests, after lifting it out of the water, the interior will be installed. The team has quite a few ideas on further improvements.
The electric boat, which, incidentally, does not yet have an official name, is one of the outcomes of the joint project ELMAR carried out by Klaipėda University and 10 other partners in Poland, Germany, and Lithuania. The aim of the project is to help small and medium-sized enterprises in the South Baltic to enter the international electricity-powered vessel markets. Klaipedians, having already covered the path from the idea to the final product, are happy to set foot in the world of creators of more environmentally friendly electric water transport.
“KU is part of EU-CONEXUS (European University for Smart Urban Coastal Sustainability), and the researcher attempts to create eco-friendly innovations is one of the University’s priorities. Specialists trained by KU developed an electric bus, and now we have an electric boat. I am proud that we are keeping pace with the world and progress,” said KU Rector prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas upon having inspected and evaluated the advantages of the electric boat together with the media representatives.