Reef Explorer: Solar-electric marine craft for marine life exploration
It was a landmark event in the history of marine technology, when the exclusively solar powered catamaran Sun21 crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 2007. Now, clean solar power is literally going to leave its mark undersea, rather than over-sea. And it is going to do that with the help of the unconventionally new and adroitly conceived Reef Explorer. Contrived by Gert-Jan van Breugel, the solar powered electric marine craft would allow its passengers to enjoy the wondrous and vibrant scenery of the underwater life of our seas, oceans and lakes.
Conceptualized specifically for beautiful locations of coral reefs (and hence the name Reef Explorer) around the equator of the world, this advanced piece of machinery is all set to fulfill the economic niche for tourism market with a adamantly ‘green’ virtue. The distinctive design integrates a noticeably transparent hull, which will act as a window to the underwater view. It is flanked by two other wing like hulls (with propellers), thus completing the multi-hull system for reducing the effect of drag through water.
The whole body is composed of a light, sturdy and durable plastic called polyethylene. The production procedure incorporates an advanced technique known as roto-molding, which is a low-pressure plastic forming process that utilizes high temperature and biaxial rotation for to produce hollow one-piece parts. The previously mentioned transparent hull will consist of two polycarbonate sheets (a material used for bulletproof glasses and fighter jet cockpits).
Now, at last, coming to the ‘green’ part, this remarkable contraption will incorporate solar cells for clean electricity generation. According to the designer, this will have a two-fold advantage. Firstly, the clean propulsion mechanism powered by solar energy would cause no harm to the endangered eco-systems of coral reefs. Secondly, as already mentioned the craft will specifically be used in the equator regions. This is because the integrated solar cells will perform much better due to high sun intensity (in equators), especially with the sun’s angle being almost perpendicular.
The craft will be powered by two silent 12-volt electric motors, whereas the solar panels will be mounted on each side of the wing hulls. The excess energy generated by the cells can even be stored in four deep cycle batteries, and used during emergency cases (they can run for continuously 6 hours).