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Solar Boat Maker Opens in New York

The Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company has officially launched its new boat manufacturing facility in Rome, New York. A ceremonial fuel line was cut to symbolize their greener solar-electric powered boats.The company has its factory for assembling them on the Erie Canal, which is a fitting venue for testing and demonstrations.

One of the company’s main products is an eight-passenger, solar-assisted pontoon boat called the Loon. This vessel is 22 feet long and has a beam just over 7 feet. It is made of fiberglass and aluminum and has a 5.5 hp electric motor, which has been said to be equivalent in power to a 15 hp gas engine. The battery is a 48 volt 8 x 6 volt AGM deep cycle, with a 6-hour charging time at 115 volts or 4 hours at 220 volts. A rooftop solar array of 1,000 watts is built into the Loon, providing electricity for the batteries. The cruising speed is 7.5 miles an hour, with a range of about fifty miles per charge. Top speed is about 9.5 miles an hour.

The company currently has four employees and wants to add three more by the end of 2012. By the end of 2013, an additional six will be needed if all goes according to plan.

Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company’s new site is at Rod Mill, a location converted from an old mill to more modern facilities funded by a $1.3 million dollar investment from the city. Currently the boat company occupies a 3,000-square-foot warehouse, but the hope is to expand this space to 10,000.

Marine air pollution is a significant environmental and public health problem. Smog, particulate matter, and global warming emissions are all components of marine pollution. A research study by a Canadian scientist found orcas on the West Coast of North America could be exposed to higher levels of carbon monoxide than are found near Los Angeles freeways. Exposure to air pollution can harm their immune systems and cause other health problems.

If electric whale- and dolphin-watch tour boats can eventually replace conventional gas and diesel vessels, marine life will be spared such toxic exposures. The tourist experience would likely also improve because of the significant reduction of noise due to much quieter engines and the lack of petroleum-based fuel exhaust which can be nauseating to some people.

Image Credit: Ernest Mettendorf, Public Domain

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