Why are we here?
This question was the introduction to the presentation where the TU Delft Solar Boat Team unveiled the design of the new solar boat.
“When people think about sustainable energy they think about cars and planes, maybe taking a long shower but no one really thinks about what’s happening on the ocean which covers roughly 70% of the earth”.
Did you know that ships emit more toxic gases every year than all cars combined? This seems to be the case even though there are more cars than ships. This year the TU Delft Solar Boat Team have decided to bring some new ideas of renewable energy to the marine industry. We went to their presentation where they their design and goals for this year. The new and improved design features a 28m2 area engineered to fit solar panels, three hulls an improved battery, cooling system and a new way to navigate the sea namely “flying”. Their goals for this year include competing in the the race but also for the first time ever navigating from France to the English coast. What does this have to do with ABC Compas? We have a member who this year is part of the solar boat team. We asked Giovanni Lieuw a few technical and general questions.
What's your function within the solar boat team?
Currently I am fulfilling the function for Acquisition at the Solar Boat Team. I assist the team with acquire whatever they might need: parts, tools, materials, knowledge, financial support etc. I am part of the Operations department of the team, where we focus on ever increasing the number of people knowing about us, showing the world what we do and why we think is important. In the meanwhile, we try to involve as many people, companies and institutions as possible to achieve our mission.
What's it like working in a dream team? What are your favorite things about it, and what challenges have you come across so far?
What I enjoy the most is that everyone is so dedicated to the project. You really get to experience what it is like to work in a real team, while being in touch with people from companies and the industry who work together with us. Especially in the beginning it can be rather exciting and every kind of contact is new, but after a while you realized these are all just people doing their job. Another thing that has been a bit of challenge was working within the team itself. To picture it as a student: even if you work in a group project with 4-10 people, you can't know what everyone is exactly doing at each and every moment. At moments where you make decisions or choices, asking or notifying the right people correctly is therefore essential. Communication is key, so to make sure all happens even more smoothly, we currently also have people from outside assisting us. All the small bits help, as we say in Dutch.
In the presentation it was made clear that the new boat is quite different from older versions. What is, in your opinion, the coolest improvement in the new design?
Not to sound cliché, but I think the new design is cool in its entirety. The idea of upscaling the whole solar boat has made the process of designing, building and later on, racing with it a much bigger challenge. A few examples: the boat is now made of three hulls, to “shred” through the waves easier, have a bigger (solar) deck and is modular! Furthermore: it is now able to carry 3 passengers and is for the first time able to race on the open sea.
The team is going for a new world record, whose idea was it? Did the team come up with it together or did one specific person think of it?
To be honest, I do not know who exactly came up with it. Since 2017, or even earlier, the Solar Boat Team has already been thinking of how to attempt to break the world record to be the fastest solar boat ever to cross the English Channel. The current team will start preparing for this attempt soon and actually go for it this year.
What aspects of your design do you think can realistically be applied in the maritime industry?
Realistically speaking, there already are quite some aspects applied in the industry. Two examples would be the use of hydrofoils - which could drastically increase speed and reduce drag, the resistance of water during sailing - and the use of solar panels and electric boating, instead of the fossil fuels used nowadays, as with cars few years ago. The real problem lies in the fact that these applications need to be upscaled to larger boats and, in particular, ships in the industry. They must be developed further and ideally be applied in the coming generations of the conservative maritime industry, where ship typically have a lifespan of several decades.
What tips do you have for someone looking to join a dream team?
Keep an eye on when they are recruiting a complete new team, or are looking for additional team members. Once in a while, one or multiple teams have events after lecture hours, or during lunch. Pass by and have short talk with them, most of the time they are more than happy to talk about their experience or what you could expect in such a year.
It is very clear that the solar boat team are very determined in completing what they have said out to do in the 2018/2019 year. Trying to bring new clean technologies that will not only help them win the competition but, maybe even have an impact in the maritime industry we wish them the best of luck in the competition.