Electric motor to power kayak in Northwest Passage trip

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Eco-adventurer Raphaël Domjan is planning a nearly 2,000-mile journey with a solar electric kayak.

Domjan plans to travel the Northwest Passage along the northern coast of North America from the Pacific to the Atlantic with an electric kayak propelled by an Ultralight 403 from Torqeedo.

The Swiss engineer hit the international headlines in May of 2012 when he circumnavigated the globe for the first time in a solar-propelled catamaran, Planet Solar.

Domjan, who will be accompanied by the kayak adventurer Anne Quéméré, faces a journey of more than 1,800 miles.

Embarking this month, it will be the first solar expedition through the Northwest Passage. The 43-year-old’s expedition, SolarArcticPassage, will take the route that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen discovered in 1895. The goal is 100 kilometers, or about 63 miles, a day.

Domjan is conducting the solar-powered expedition in a part of the globe where sunlight is the least intense to demonstrate that solar electric-powered mobility is possible anywhere on Earth. During the summer, the Arctic Circle remains light for more than 20 hours a day.

The starting point for the solar expedition is the small Canadian settlement of Tuktoyaktuk. Even in the summer months, temperatures struggle to reach the freezing point and are accompanied by rain and snow. Icebergs and ice floes risk damage to the kayak and motor and the area is home to polar bears.

Domjan will maneuver his kayak through this labyrinth of ice for about 14 hours a day. If he succeeds, he will be the first person to traverse the Northwest Passage in an electric-powered kayak when he reaches the settlement at Pond Inlet in September. His full route can be seen here.