Ribcraft patrol boat gets hybrid electric propulsion system

By Chad Elmore02 November 2021

Hybrid electric system supplied by Transfluid and Elcome uses Volvo Penta diesels.

Patrol boat

A new patrol boat launched by Ribcraft in Dubai is powered by a unique hybrid electric system supplied by Transfluid and Elcome International.

The two companies collaborated to design and install the cost-effective diesel-electric system for the 9 m Ribcraft professional-grade rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB). A Middle Eastern customer required a Patrol RHIB intended for the surveillance of the environmentally protected areas with zero environmental footprint, while at the same time being able to operate at speeds in excess of 40 knots for safety and security missions.

Elcome was responsible for all aspects of specifying, integrating, installing, testing and commissioning the Transfluid hybrid system, which can operate in an electric-only, engine-only or booster mode. All systems and equipment on board were specified and designed in collaboration with Ribcraft’s team of technical designers and naval architects.

Founded in Great Britain over 30 years ago, Ribcraft is a builder of professional-grade, custom rigid inflatable boats. The company has completed major contracts for clients ranging from the defense sector to police forces and commercial operators around the world.

Transfluid

The system architecture, developed by Transfluid, incorporates a clutch and transmission that enables fast and seamless switching between modes. When the clutch is disengaged, the vessel runs solely on battery power, providing emission-free and silent running.

When in “engine” mode, the clutch is engaged and the twin Volvo Penta D4 DPH diesels propel the boat and can also recharge the batteries if required at the touch of a button. In the “booster” mode, the battery-driven electric motor and diesel engines deliver maximum thrust for powertrain.

The boat can operate efficiently and silently in the electric mode when patrolling at slow speeds or in protected waters, and surge quickly to high-speed operation as needed.

The diesels can be brought online while running on electric power to recharge batteries as needed to extend the operating range. The lithium batteries can also be charged from a shore power connection when at the pier.

The completely integrated turnkey solution utilizes a proprietary electronic controller that communicates with all components through a CANbus protocol. The hybrid modules, batteries and electric motors are approved by DNV.

The three operational modes enable the boat operator to use smaller, less expensive and more efficient diesel engines, yielding substantial savings in fuel consumption and longer maintenance intervals without sacrificing performance. The system also provides more flexibility for boats operating in and out of environmentally protected areas, while delivering improved working conditions for the crew, with no diesel fumes or noise when running in the electric mode.

Volvo Penta

“The demand for marine electric and hybrid propulsion systems is growing rapidly worldwide, driven by growing awareness of environmental sustainability and a desire to reduce operational and maintenance costs,” said Jimmy Grewal, executive director of Elcome International.

Elcome was founded in 1970 and has a diversified portfolio of technologies, solutions and services. The company is headquartered in Dubai and maintains 24 offices in 11 countries extending from Europe to Southeast Asia, with a total of more than 500 employees.

“The diesel-electric hybrid system developed for the new Ribcraft patrol boat incorporates an easy ‘plug-and-play’ design that can be cost-effectively installed on newbuilds or existing vessels,” said Gianluigi Taroni, sales director, Transfluid SpA.

Transfluid was founded in 1957 and specializes in the production and design of large, medium and small power transmissions.

“Transfluid and Elcome have been excellent partners for the Ribcraft 9.0 Patrol RHIB, and we look forward to further collaboration with their talented engineering and application teams on future projects,” said Adelina Florescu, business development manager, Ribcraft.

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