Yacht powered by wind even with sails lowered

Hybrid-electric catamaran uses lithium-ion battery charged onboard with wind-generated electricity.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read

International Battery
International Battery partnering to make a catamaran yacht that uses a lithium ion battery charged by wind as auxiliary power source. International Battery

International Battery and Electric Marine Propulsion have partnered to build a yacht that runs on wind energy even when its sails are lowered, both companies announced on Tuesday.

The Tang is a 60-foot hybrid-electric Tag Yachts catamaran with twin E motion 18-kilowatt permanent-magnet motors powered by a 144-volt lithium ion battery pack. The batteries charge onboard from wind-generated electricity of sorts, though this boat isn't exactly sporting small-wind turbines.

"The main renewable energy input to the large-format battery pack is electricity regenerated by wind power as the boat's propellers spin in the wake, under sail. The propellers turn the 18-kilowatt propulsion motors, which automatically become generators and send electricity back to the batteries," according to International Battery.

The boat also has two 22-kilowatt diesel generators that can kick in to power the lithium ion battery pack in the event that there is not enough wind. The battery pack also has a 144-volt charger that can be plugged into a range of outlets with different voltages and frequencies, a necessity for a yacht intended to travel internationally.

International Battery says its battery pack provides enough electricity to power the yacht, as well as support a slew of electronics onboard, including a 37-inch flat-screen TV, LED lighting, two refrigerator-freezers, a dishwasher, a microwave, an air-conditioner, and a water maker.

The carbon-fiber speedboat is currently in testing at Tag's facility in St. Francis Bay, South Africa, and will be officially shown in February 2011 at the Miami International Boat Show.

But the project is more a showcase for International Battery than the boat itself. International Battery makes large-format lithium ion batteries for utility-grade energy storage. While the company raised $35 million in a series C funding in May, a yacht sporting its latest technology could help further distinguish it against well-known companies, like A123 Systems and EnerDel, that make similar products.