World’s Largest Electric Ferries: 4.16 MWh Battery, 10 MW Charging

SEP 28 2016 BY MARK KANE 33

XALT Energy battery cells

XALT Energy battery cells

XALT Energy

XALT Energy

Two diesel-electric ferries (the Tycho Brahe and Aurora) are in the process of being converted to become the world’s largest electric ferries, with diesel engines reduced to the role of back-up.

Especially impressive is the amount of batteries that will be used in each of those ferries – 4.16 MWH, that is equal to the batteries found in over 173 Nissan LEAFs (base).

The battery pack designed by Plan B Energy Storage (PBES) consists of 640 lithium-ion modules (6.5 kWh each) from XALT Energy. As one might imagine with the resources on hand with a boat, the battery will be water-cooled.

The project was supported by a 120 million SEK ($14.1 million) investment from the INEA, the European Union’s executive agency for innovation and networks.

Another great acheivemnt will be charging those batteries – the plan is to recharge some 1,200 kWh every short visit at port (5.5 minutes or 9 minutes), using  a ABB with 10 kV, 10 MW robot connection! There is an also an on-board transformer (10 kV to 800 V).

Water-Cooled Batteries Ensure Fast Charging of Electric Ferries Across Øresund

Water-Cooled Batteries Ensure Fast Charging of Electric Ferries Across Øresund

Press blast:

Water-Cooled Batteries Ensure Fast Charging of Electric Ferries Across Øresund

English translation from original article published by Danish paper Ingeniøren, “Vandkølede batterier sikrer lynladning af elfærger på Øresund”, by Søren Rask Petersen on August 27, 2016

Read original article here

1,200 kWh of electricity will need to be available when two ferries from HH Ferries operating on the Elsinore-Helsingborg route convert to full battery operation next year. This will require automated charging and a unique cooling system for the lithium batteries.

Chimney smoke and engine rumble will soon become an old seafarer’s tale on HH Ferries’ two largest ferries operating on the Elsinore-Helsingborg route, which will be fully converted to battery operation next year.

The ferries ‘Tycho Brahe’ and ‘Aurora’ are now diesel-electric, and the diesel engines from Wärtsilä will remain as a backup – but after the rebuild, the electric motor that drives the screw, will be supplied by 640 lithium batteries placed in four 32-foot containers on top of the vessel between the two chimneys.

The batteries must be charged with approximately 1,200 kWh every time the ferries are at port. In Elsinore they have 5.5 minutes and in Helsingborg 9 minutes, therefore, there is no time to waste, which is why the charging process will be fully automated, says Henrik Fall Hansen – senior chief engineer on board of Tycho Brahe:

“Our main supplier, ABB, also makes industrial robots, and the plan is that we connect the high-voltage cables using a robot.”

Industrial Robot connects the cable

The robot, an ABB IRB 7600, will be placed in a small area by the ferry landing.   When a ferry is approaching, the robot will receive a wireless signal telling it to get ready. A door will slide open as will a hatch in the side of the ship where the electric cables are rolled up.

“When the ship is approaching the dock, half meter before arriving at the port, the robot begins to reach for the cables and connect them to the connectors. As soon as we have moored the ship, we will turn off the power,” says Henrik Fall Hansen.

The robot orients itself using 3D laser scanning, and when it’s time for departure, the disconnection happens automatically.

‘The moment we want to disembark from the port and they press the button to raise the gate to the cars, the robot will also disconnect. It turns off the power, takes the two cables and puts them back on the ship and closes the hatches,” explains the chief engineer.

It is a magnetic clutch that holds the connectors in place, so if by mistake the ship should sail without disconnecting the cables, they will automatically drop when the ship pulls in the cables.

The power is transferred to the ship with 10 kV and 10 MW.  In order to provide the charging stations with this power, Elsinore Power Supply must begin burying 7 km of new cables within the city. On board the ship the power from the 10 kV is transformed down to 800 V, and is rectified to direct current (DC) before it is charged to the batteries.

Water-based battery cooling 

Charging takes place at 3C – that is three times the battery’s standard charging rate – this puts great demand on the battery cooling system, which combined have a capacity of 4,160 kWh and weighs 80 tonnes.

Unlike other battery-powered ferries, air cooling has been ruled out, and instead a newly patented water-based cooling system from the Canadian/Norwegian company PBES is to be installed. Every time the charge on the battery is doubled, the heat generation is quadrupled, but according to PBES their CellCoolTM system can dispose of more heat than the ferry’s batteries are capable of producing.

Thus, the efficient cooling system, along with other safety systems, prevents overheating, also known as “thermal runaway”, in which the heat leads to a reaction between the cathode material and the electrolyte within the cell. This can cause the battery to short circuit whereby energy is released as heat, which accelerates the reaction, and the electrolyte eventually ignites and affects the surrounding cells.

The cooling system, which is produced at the PBES’ factory in Trondheim, contains built-in cooling elements within the holders surrounding the individual battery cells. They are produced in metal to ensure maximum heat transfer to the cooling water, and the circuit is connected to a heat exchanger outside each container.

During the 20-minute crossing the batteries are discharged by 29 percent – from 85 – 56 percent of maximum capacity. Hence there is a battery reserve, making it possible to sail in stormy weather etc.

“We could make two trips without charging, but it obviously reduces the battery life, the more you drain it,” explains Henrik Fall Hansen.

Large investment

HH Ferries is the first shipping company in the world to introduce full battery operation on ferries as large as Tycho Brahe and Aurora, which can accommodate 1,100 and 1,250 passengers and 240 cars respectively, while sailing around the clock.

According to the company’s managing director, Henrik Rørbæk, the investment amounts to 300 million Swedish kr. (234 million Danish kr.), and the EU has provided a grant of 13 million euro, equivalent to 97 million kr.

At present, he dares not comment as to when, and if, the other three Elsinore-Helsingborg ferries – ‘Hamlet’, ‘Mercandia IV’ and ‘Mercandia VIII’ – are converted to battery operation.

“It’s a big investment, so we will evaluate it within the next few years, before we make a decision,” says Henrik Rørbæk.

The world’s first fully battery-powered car ferry was ‘Ampere’, which was put into operation on Sognefjord in Norway in the spring of 2015. Also, in the archipelagos of south Funen, a battery-operated ferry is on the way. It will sail between Fynshav, Søby and Faaborg.

source: Green Car Congress

Categories: General


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33 Comments on "World’s Largest Electric Ferries: 4.16 MWh Battery, 10 MW Charging"

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Cool stuff. An IRB 7600 is a decent size robot. Would be interesting to know how the laser guiding system works.

“the plan is to recharge some 1,200 kWh every short visit at port ”

“short” was probably a bad choice of words 🙂

With 10MW charging, that would be ~7ish minutes. I highly doubt they can unload and reload a ferry that quickly

In Norway it would not have been a problem. The ferries there are not standing still for many minutes, 2 minutes to unload and 2-3 to load is common there.

I was referring to an “electrical short”, not time.

We got it 🙂

And we got the *cool* party of ‘Cool stuff’, too.

Well they use a 1 MW charger, so charging 1200kWh you would need around 1:12 hours. That is not sooo long.

“The power is transferred to the ship with 10 kV and 10 MW.” so you’re off by an order of magnitude.

No, they use a 10 MW charger.

1.2 MWh / 10 MW = 432 seconds = 7:12 minutes [excluding power conversion looses]

The biggest Tesla battery has a full capacity 100 kWh.

100 kWh is delivered to the ferry in just 36 seconds, just to put things into perspective.
100 kWh / 10 MW = 36 seconds

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could fully charge a 100 kWh Tesla in just 36 seconds. 🙂

Each ferry has a battery capacity that equals 42 Tesla 100 kWh.
640 * 6,5 kWh / 100 kWh = 41.6

Match in the gas tank, boom boom. 🙂

Does anyone know what lithium battery chemistry it uses?

nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)

“XALT® 75Ah HE” NMC cells to be specific.
Specifications: ttp://
XALT® 75Ah HE data sheet:

The cells are built into these PBES modules with 24 cells in series in each module:

Each PBES module is made up of 24 XALT High Power 75Ah NMC lithium ion cells. Designed in a modular format, the system consists of 100V, 6.5kWh building blocks. Modules are configured in series to meet needed bus voltage; parallel strings are added together to meet the total desired system capacity. The system is housed in an engineered racking system that provides mechanical protection and an integrated cooling system.”

Here’s the correct link
I had accidentally deleted the ‘h’ in http.

Sorry it’s actually the XALT® 75Ah HP [High Power] cells they use, not the XALT® 75Ah HE [High Energy] like I posted.

XALT® 75Ah HP data sheet:

Wonder what is the investment rate of return, in saving money on diesel fuel? How many years for payback?

It’s getting a huge $14.1 million subsidy from the gov’t.

It’s a very short distance, as it’s only 4.8 km from Elsinore to Helsingborg.

It’s a research project into possible future w/o short-range diesel NOx emitting ferries, not an investment (no matter what they call it).

Eventually it will be possible to buy them from shipyards (w/o subsidies), but there are bound to be a few proof-of-concepts vessels until then.

AlphaEdge said:

“Wonder what is the investment rate of return, in saving money on diesel fuel? How many years for payback?”

I was wondering that myself. Does this really make economic sense, in terms of savings on buying diesel fuel vs. the cost of the very large battery packs, amortized over the number of years before expected replacement?

Of course, you can argue that the societal cost of pollution and CO2 emissions should be included in the price of the diesel fuel, which would certainly make the EV powertrain more cost-effective.

* * * * *

One thing is certain: Dumping the waste heat from this battery pack is not going to be a problem! All they need to do is continually pump seawater through the cooling system.

Tycho… Is there any problem with the nose? Or maybe they’ll change the name to Kepler.

Well, it is a ferry so it probably has a chopped off nose.

It amazes me, I’ve been following EVs for nearly 10 years and even now I see the incorrect use of power and energy units very frequently.

It’s so frustrating, it’s not a difficult concept but it can make articles initially confusing.

For such a short distance a power cable would be a better option than this huge battery

These ferries are crossing one of the busiest belts in the world. It’s the best water connection to eastern Germany, Poland, the Baltics, Finland and eastern Sweden. A cable isn’t an option.
Also this is a research project 🙂

10000 volt and 10000 KW charging power, I am jubilating!
I really love it.

Excellent news.
Something like this should be done on all ships, ferries, barges and even trains.

All these modes of transport use dirty bunker fuel which is very harmful.
Time they move soon to electric.
Install battery in every part of ferry and they will power it for every km.

I’ve often thought railways tracks would make a good site for PV panels.
No traffic shadow, already in place and a market for the power right there.
There must be thousands of miles of them and it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to make some kind of automated panel laying train. Or maybe get Gromit on the job.

+1, I’ve had the same thought. They could probably even easily automate the cleaning (sweeping, and maybe even washing) of them.

BART and all other regional transit authorities, are you listening?!

Turns out this is a 4km ferry route, and extremely busy (70 ferry departures day from each side), typically 20min today. I wonder why a bridge/causeway isn’t feasible/economical — like the Øresund Bridge further south.

Anyway, anybody know the electric motor specs?

Please InsideEVs:
Fix a better comment section, connected with “discuss” or something like that.

Discuss is terrible. Once you are connected it takes an hour to find the way out. It is as if they didn’t wanted you to ever disconnect after you entered. A kind of trap.

In most articles, the comment turn into a full-blown discussion between multiple people — they’re no longer comments on the article.

What’s really needed is to abandon the WordPress-based siliness and move to a full blown Web forum. There are lots of good ones, mostly completely free, that handle 100x the traffic InsideEVs has. That would allow alerts on responses, customizing the way posts are shown per-user, editing previous responses, including more comtent types in the comments — lots of goodies. Not sure why it’s not on the agenda.

I’d simply love to see a real forum here. But properly moderating such a high-volume forum would require a lot of moderator hours, and I doubt the site can afford that.