With Ecuadorian labor and minds, a zero-emission boat is designed to transport passengers in Galapagos

Another advantage of the new ship would be comfort for settlers and tourists who suffer dizziness and blows on the boats they use today to travel between islands.

June 30, 2021 – 06h30
Ricardo Zambrano

This is a conceptual model of the vessel that will be designed by the Zegal project. 
It will move with environmentally friendly energy systems, it would not generate emissions and it will give comfort to its passengers. Courtesy: Édgar Villamarín

From the negative experience left by a trip on a speedboat between Santa Cruz and Isabela in the Galapagos Islands in 2017, the idea arose to design and build a fast, comfortable zero-emissions boat, says Rubén Paredes, a teacher at the Littoral Polytechnic School (Espol).

The design of the current boats that are used for inter-island trips in the archipelago causes dizziness and blows in both settlers and tourists. In addition, due to the wave strength of the trip, in general, older adults and children must wait for certain times when the sea is relatively calm to make the journey.

“The current boats are 11 meters long, have two to three outboard motors installed and use gasoline. The problem is that almost the entire fleet consumes about a million gallons of gasoline a year. Injured sea turtles have also been reported, since the boats hit them because they sail at 50 kilometers per hour and they do not see them,” says the teacher.

That is why Paredes and a group of professionals from Espol, Astinave, the National Institute for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies and the Stevens Institute Technology are working on a boat design that would replace outboard motors with systems that do not use fossil fuels, to thus reduce emissions, increase passenger comfort and reduce collisions with turtles.

In fact, this project, called Zegal, was one of the winners of the Inédita call promoted by the Senescyt in 2018 and about $187,000 was awarded for its development. However, the funds, which will be administered by the United Nations Development Program, were transferred only at the beginning of this year, with which it was possible to sign the contractual part with the professionals who will participate. Final designs are expected to be in two years.

An evaluation of the interisland transportation system will be carried out with trips between the Galapagos islands, a comparison of non-fossil propulsion alternatives, optimization of the current design of the vessels to reduce their energy consumption, among other factors.

Before the pandemic began, we had the opportunity for an undergraduate student and a researcher to visit Galapagos and conduct experiments that have allowed us to quantify the energy efficiency of current vessels, ” adds Paredes.

The idea is to design and build a boat with just over 13 meters long, with a modification of the angle of inclination of the hull (which helps to reduce the negative impacts on passengers) and reduce its structural weight. Scale models will be made and tested in a hydrodynamic tank located in the laboratories of the Stevens Institute of Technology in the USA.

Currently there are successful cases of boats with solar panels in Galapagos, but these boats are not fast and are used for very short trips. So, for Zegal the combination of solar energy, wind energy and the use of hydrogen will be evaluated.

“We believe that this design will be well received by the owners of the current boats that exist on the islands, since they will reduce their fuel consumption and give comfort to their passengers,” says Paredes.

In fact, the Transmartisa cooperative has provided its vessels to carry out the experiments and could be a potential cooperative interested in the final design. In addition, the Galapagos National Park has consulted if this type of boats could be used for patrols in the reserve, since the design would go with the “philosophy” of the institution.

José Marín, also an Espol teacher and Paredes mentor, indicates that Zegal seeks to improve transportation within Galapagos and help the environment: “The only thing that justifies submitting to the current pounding of the boats is the beauty that is seen and enjoyed at the end of the trip. The truth is that we have a challenge when designing a boat that can move at the speeds of today’s boats. That is why the tests will be important ”.

In addition, according to Marín, this project is an important opportunity to demonstrate that Ecuadorian universities also incubate solutions to real problems that affect the population, in this case of the Galapagos. (I)

Read the original coverage from El Universo at https://www.eluniverso.com/larevista/ecologia/proyecto-zegal-con-mentes-y-mano-de-obra-ecuatorianas-se-disena-una-embarcacion-cero-emisiones-para-transportar-a-pasajeros-en-galapagos-nota/

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021


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