Working Principles of Yanmar Electric Propulsion Systems

Blog | October 22nd, 2019

A Yanmar-regulated design strategy has been used for some years now to control fuel flow issues. As a result, propellor shafts and engine pistons sync perfectly while fuel economy figures enjoy substantial performance upticks. Having perfected such performance-centred programs, what if the engineering teams working under this celebrated brand name’s patronage were to develop a similarly high-performance electric propulsion system? Current-flow regulated, not diesel-fed, the engine would have to be something very special indeed.

What Makes A Yanmar Electric Propulsion Systems Tick?

On smaller boats, electric motors power compact propulsion systems. The equipment operates a little bit like an electric car. In fact, the lithium-ion batteries used in these all-electric powerplants are often purchased from car manufacturers, from companies who’ve done all the R & D work in their own labs. A package of batteries is first in the power transmitting chain, then there’s a small switchboard, which is then hooked into a pair of electric motors. Yanmar systems have partially adopted this approach, with an extra measure of scalability thrown in to help matters along. Instead of the batteries, a group of ship generators provide many kilowatts of shipboard electricity. The switchboard is still there, but it’s a larger box of busbars and fittings. Channelled outward by the switches and insulated cables, emission-free propulsion power finally arrives at a muscly pair of electric motors.

All-Electric Marine Propulsion Scalability

It’s not hard to figure out where the power comes from on a smaller boat. Sailboats can generate mast power by using what’s known as regenerative power. If there’s no wind, the batteries are recharged by solar panels. It’s a little harder onboard a larger boat, but Yanmar engineers are on top of things. With multiple Yanmar-branded generators providing the electricity, the current energizes the switchboard and those two big electric motors. As for where the original source of energy comes from, generators can accept different kinetic power sources. A steam turbine can be used, or maybe the spinning generator energy is provided by a duo of thrusters sunken into the water. Similar to a steam turbine, it’s the existing “cut” of a ship’s hull as it’s propelled through the water that provides rotary power.

For that last propulsion source, hybrid engines are usually sourced. These composite powerplants still require a diesel engine, which then turns off as the ship’s hull reaches its cruising velocity. However, even with the diesel engine further back in the power transmitting chain, there’s always a chance of a leak. That leak could lead to a pollution issue, so great resources must then be used to make sure the engine is in tip-top shape. Back with Yanmars’ all-electric marine propulsion systems, steam and mast regenerative power, plus that additional solar-charged battery power, are the current solution to the generation of massive amounts of propeller-spinning electricity.

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