The Niagara Falls is getting a bit cleaner this year, as ABB announced that its zero emission technology will power the next generation fully electric ferries for the iconic Maid of the Mist tour. The two new vessels will be powered completely by high-capacity battery packs, making them the first fully-electric vessels ever built in the United States, according to ABB.
The new ferries will go into service later this year, providing visitors with an unfettered experience of the falls from up close. No longer will they have to take in the falls amidst diesel fumes or the rough vibrations they create. Instead, the nearly silent electric motors will carry passengers up to the falls to take in their majesty from up close, with clean air, just as nature intended.
This may sound like an overly-hyped news bit, but the change is stark. Society at large has grown accustomed to the massive diesel engines that power the current generation of ferries, but just because we are used to them does not mean that they are not selling our planet out from under us. The emissions flowing out the stacks behind diesel engines are linked to cancer and of course, respiratory issues. The vibrations and noise they create taint the experience and leave our memories clouded with subpar experiences. Upgrading to zero emission electric powertrains allow us to take in the full majesty and power of nature as it was meant to be.
The Maid of the Mist is one of North America’s oldest tourist attractions and currently operates from April through to the first week of November. Boats head off from the downstream dock for the base of Niagara Falls every 30 minutes, serving an impressive 1.6 million guests annually.
“We are thrilled to be the US’s first vessel owner to add all-electric ferries to our fleet,” said Christopher M. Glynn, president of Maid of the Mist Corp. “We have chosen ABB to support us in our journey towards more sustainable operation based on their unparalleled experience in marine system integration, as well as efficient and innovative technologies for sustainable transportation.”
As a special bonus, the new ferries will pull all of the electricity needed to charge up their 316 kWh battery packs using zero emission hydropower while passengers get off and on the boat. The seven minute charge provides more than enough power for the vessel’s dual electric propulsion motors to put out a total of 400 kW | 563 HP.
“Maid of the Mist’s decisive move towards e-mobility signals a new era in the future of transportation and complements ABB’s commitment to power the world without consuming the earth,” said Peter Terwiesch, President of the Industrial Automation business at ABB. “Reducing emissions at Niagara Falls is not only important for the natural landmark, but also proves that the technologies enabling sustainable mobility are already available today.”