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Electric Ferry Sets Distance Record for Single Battery Charge

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A fully electric ferry built to demonstrate the potential for electrically powered ships has set a new distance record.

Finnish company Danfoss Editron, which supplied the electric drivetrains and propulsion motors for the ferry, said the Ellen set a distance record for the longest voyage on a single battery charge.

The ferry normally operates on a 22-nautical-mile route in the southern islands of Denmark, but she made a special trip to be on display at the 7th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency sponsored by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

According to Danfoss, on the ferry’s return from the conference, Ellen sailed 50 nautical miles on a single battery charge. The company plans to submit the trip to the Guinness World Records.

Ellen was developed under E-Ferry, a European Union-backed project, which cost 21.3 million euros. The price tag is around 40 percent more expensive than a conventional vessel, but operating costs are reported to be 75 percent lower. It is estimated that the electric ferry will save the release of 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Ellen was fabricated in sections in Szczecin, Poland, and in September 2016, 22 sections were welded together, and the hull was towed to Denmark for outfitting.

She was launched in 2019, and in her first 10 months of operations, she completed approximately 1,000 round trips. Ellen can carry 30 vehicles and 200 passengers. She is 195 feet long and operated by a crew of three and sails at a speed of approximately 12 knots.

She was designed to be as light as possible. She does not have ramps, instead using those on shore. The hull is steel, but the bridge is made of aluminum. Deck furniture is made from recycled paper rather than wood, giving the ferry a total weight of 650 tons.

The ferry’s batteries were developed by Leclanché of Switzerland and are reported to be Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide. They are split between two battery rooms below deck and have a capacity of 4.3 MWh. She is one of the first vessels of her type to have no emergency generator. A charging arm on shore allows battery recharging while loading. Charging time is about 20 minutes.

According to Danfoss, the vessel is 87 percent energy efficient from the power grid to the propeller. The electric ferry uses half the normal energy required to operate a standard ferry and Danfoss says it operates with a 24 percent lower cost than a new diesel ferry. The company estimates that there is the potential for 900 ferries in Europe that could be replaced by the same type of e-ferry as the Ellen.

"Ellen is an excellent example of the future for electric transport. It's cleaner, greener, and more efficient than her fossil-fuel competitors,” said Kimmo Rauma, vice president of Danfoss' Editron division. “Electrifying maritime transport is a clear-cut way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

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