Solarfly

The concept

The Solarfly is a small catamaran (with no sail) powered by two multi-directionnal electric motors that can accommodate up to four passengers. It uses three modes of energy supplies: Solar, Electrical Grid and Mechanical.

The background

The Solarfly was born from a discussion between my brother Louis Armand and me. He suggested that I develop a new generation of pedalboat that would place sports/physical activity at the forefront and my imagination went a little loose while I was reflecting on his idea. To be frank, I thought it needed a bit of ‘Motor’ and ‘Tech’ so I decided to push the conventional pedalboat enveloppe …

How it works

A complete set of marine batteries are sealed in each pontoon, they are used to store energy for each rides. A smart charger is also enclosed in the pontoons along with an automated navigation system.

The first source of energy would come from flexible solar panels located on the Bimini rooftop. Power Film Solar manufactures various kinds of flexible  solar panels so it would probably be possible to cover other parts of the boat like the deck or the pontoons. The second source of energy would come from the power grid. A smart charger would recharge the batteries of the Solarfly while it would be anchored at the dock (Plugged to a CFGI power outlet).

The third source is a bit more special. It would come from the mechanical energy transmitted by each pedal to a flywheel. This flywheel would generates a current by turning in a vacuum housing and it would recharge the Solarfly’s batteries. It would thus be possible to pedal for a period of time (Ex:30 minutes) and then let the flywheel continue charging the batteries and its own momentum. The flywheel could also power the electric motors under the catamaran at the same time.

To reduce friction on the pontoon’s surface, I thought about coating them with superhydrophobic paint such as the Ultra-Ever Dry  from UltraTech. I don’t know if this could reduce significantly the amount of energy required to move the Solarfly in water, but I imagine there would be less friction so it would be worthwhile to test the idea…

I would install two ‘Azipod‘ type motors on the Solarfly. These motors would be similar in principles to those used on cruise ships and fabricated by the marine division of ABB. (Of course we are talking about a new type of small electric motor conceived for pleasure boats) . Using an ‘Azipod’ would make it possible to automate the navigation of the Solarfly. It could navigate itself, keep a constant distance from the shore and avoid obstacles.

The designer

The Solarfly concept was developed in collaboration with Jan Bujnak, an industrial designer from the Slovak Republic. Jan graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and works as a freelance designer. Jan has also produced the concept images of the Oceanid submarine.