Quadrofoil: The Next Generation Electric Watercraft
By Bill Moore
Jet skis are fun. They also pollute with all those hydrocarbons being spewed into our increasingly precious water. The time is right for a zero-emission recreational watercraft and a team in Slovenia have come up with one. This week EV World talks with co-founder and director of R&D for Quadrofoil D.O.O., Simon Pivec.
I got to drive my first jet ski this past summer. It was a blast, despite being pelted by raindrops at 35 mph and jarringly bouncing over waves and wakes on Lake Panorama , northwest of Des Moines, Iowa. I can certainly appreciate their appeal. They are the motorcycles of the water. '
They also pollute. The hydrocarbon from the four-stroke engine has to go somewhere and where it goes is into the water, and this doesn't account for what gets spilled during refueling. It's a problem common to nearly all recreational marine craft with the exception to small sail boats that use an electric trolling motor for auxiliary propulsion… and the Quadrofoil, pictured above.
Powered by a tiny 3.7kW (5 hp) electric motor, this two-passenger watercraft can, in its original prototype version, hit speeds of 33 km/h (20.5 mph), with faster models in development. The team behind this innovative, zero-emission, EV (electric vessel) is based on eastern Slovenia, in Slovenski Bistrica. Last week, we connected with the co-founder and director of R&D, Simon Pivec, via Skype to learn more about their project, the results of which they have beautifully captured in the video below.
The origin of the Quadrofoil, explains Pivec was a decade ago when he and others were working on applying hydrofoil technology to the next generation of America's Cup sailboats. The top speed of a conventional sailboat is restricted by the length of the waterline along the hull: the longer the line, the faster the sailing potential, but there is a limit to how long such a vessel can be. The only way to violate this rule is to lift the hull out of the water and that's what hydrofoils or miniature airplane-like wings do. Because water is many times denser than air, the 'wings' can be very small relative to the size of the craft. The concept has been around a long time, Pivec tells me in our interview, but it's not been widely adapted to the recreational watercraft market.
Pivec's pursuit of sailing records using hydrofoils stalled with the collapse of the global economy in 2008, only to find a new niche to exploit: small, reasonably-affordable, recreational watercraft: basically the playground currently dominated by those jet skis and their gas-guzzling four-strokes.
Where, according to one Internet source, the average jet ski is powered by a 125 hp motor, and one Kawaski model uses a mind-melting 300 hp, the Quadrofoil is powered by 5 hp (3.5kW), 25 times smaller than the average jet ski. Yet on that mere 5 hp, it can hit speeds up to 40 km/h and, says Pivec, accelerate like a Ferrari. Better yet, once it reaches between 10-12 km/h (6-7.4 mph) and the 'wings' lift it out of the water, its speed suddenly increases, while its power consumption drops by half. Best of all, it dumps no dirty hydrocarbons into the water. And if skimming over the water at 25 mph - and in the process slicing through those wakes and waves - isn't exciting enough for you, Pivec says they are working on faster craft and bigger models: a four-place is on the drawing board. They also have a patent that overcomes one of the drawbacks of conventional hydrofoils: their inability to turn in tight circles. The Quadrofoil has a 7 meter (23 ft) turning radius, made possible by their steerable 'wings' and motor.
The company is aiming to sell its first 100 limited edition models starting Spring of 2015, with a lower-priced (€15,000/$18,400USD) model to follow.
The full 40-minute interview is divided into three (3) segments. Quadrofoil specs are available on the company website: http://quadrofoil.com.
VIDEO PART 1
VIDEO PART 2
VIDEO PART 3
Originally published: 07 Dec 2014
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