Durban University of Technology (DUT) contracted Fibre Tech to manufacture a boat for a Solar powered boat project
The South African boat-building industry has a high degree of international credibility. Numerous reports have shown that the industry has undergone an efficient industrial restructuring that makes it internationally competitive with respect to price, quality and durability.
One such local company is Fibre Tech which was approached by the DUT to assist the unit in the manufacturing of their solar PV powered racing boat.
The DUT Energy Technology Station known as “KZN Industrial Energy Efficient Training and Resource Centre (IEETR), is based in the Physics Unit at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and is established as one of many technology stations based within South African Universities.
This DUT initiative shifted focus to the importance of alternative energy technology in the marine industry and ocean welfare. As the local leader and soul competitor to the Monaco Electric Solar Boat competition from SA and Africa, the ‘SiyaHamba’ solar electric boat project was developed and manufactured.
Fibre Tech produced various physical prototypes of their new C-Skiff 495 Fishing Hull, made by hand for the purposes of testing. Each prototype was then re-engineered with software and ran via simulation software. The qualified prototype was then utilized to manufacture the plug and mold. The development interaction between computer software and hand-made high-end products promotes traditional and advanced manufacturing techniques.
The same process was used during the design, development and manufacturing of the specialist carbon fibre solar PV deck, which DUT took its design inspiration from the US black bird Lockheed SR71 Spy Plane. The deck was covered by lightweight solar PV panels to supply power to the power point tracker, supplying the lithium-ion battery bank, in order to be propelled by a Torqeedo 4.0T electrical motor.
The key aspect during the whole development was ensuring an integrated, well-manufactured and highly secure boating unit. Two small streamlined pontoons were fitted on either side of the wide solar panel equipped deck to represent a trimaran with excellent stability and buoyancy.
The final vessel was made from hand-laid carbon fibre and specialist epoxy. The final manufacturing process involved the use of vacuum-infusion technology, and the final product weighted a total of 90 kilograms, truly exceptional.