Thailand Gets Fleet Of Electric Ferries To Help Clean Up Bangkok

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With an electric powertrain developed by the electric marine experts at Danfoss Editron, some 27 zero-emission passenger ferries will soon replace a hodgepodge of aging diesels in Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River as part of an exploratory bid to improve air quality and clean up the water supply in the Thai capitol.

With nearly 23 million visitors arriving during normal, non-COVID years, Thailand’s capitol city of Bangkok is often cited as the most visited city in the world. Those tourists get around in a number of ways, of course, but as often as not they’re checking out the city’s storied skyline from one of the dozens of the city’s ferries. Those boats are also a key part of the city’s logistics, moving goods, food, and people around the bustling metropolis. The problem is, however, those old ferries belch out literally tons of carbon emissions and leak untold gallons of oil and fuel into the country’s air and water. As such, the city’s air quality is regularly recorded as “unhealthy.”

Those new ferries are going to play a big role in cleaning all that up. “This project can pave the way to bringing them back to life in a sustainable manner by linking key transport networks and providing a smooth and comfortable ride to commuters,” explains David Hunter, Danfoss Editron’s Business Development Manager for the Asian-Pacific market. “It will also help to curb the need for further tunnels and roads, with the waterways becoming [an even more popular] mode of transport once again. More of these projects coming to fruition will help the city become less polluted and congested. It is anticipated that introducing this fleet of fully-electric catamarans will remove approximately 9500 tons of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, annually.”

9500 tons of carbon is — I mean, that’s a lot of carbon to not get stuck with, you know?

Each of the twenty-seven catamaran-style ferries will be capable of carrying up to 200 passengers, and will be pushed along by a pair of EM-PMI375-T800 series Danfoss electric motors. Those motors are each good for a continuous power output of between 174-192kW, and are, per Danfoss, “based on synchronous reluctance assisted permanent magnet technology.”

The electric motors are also liquid-cooled, designed to work in harsh operating environments and offer smaller dimensions, lighter weight and higher efficiencies than current diesel motors. All of which should mean the new ferries are cheaper to operate in addition to being cleaner and greener.

Bankgok’s big boat buy is being partially subsidized by a $33 million (US) from Thai energy company Energy Absolute. Their investment will help to install fast-charging stations at a number of dockside stops which, the company claims, will be capable of fast-charging the ferries in just 15 minutes (!). The electric ferries will be able of operating for between two and four hours on each charge, with a range of 80-100km.

The project is hoped to be the first of many in Thailand, with Danfoss executives eyeing electric trucks and buses as a potential future business opportunity — assuming this venture with Energy Absolute pays off. For his part, Hunter thinks it will. “Energy Absolute is a top-tier company that is heavily investing in sustainable infrastructure and transportation. We are excited about the potential of working together further.”

Here’s hoping the experiment is a big hit, with still more electric ferries — like the recently-launched Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls — helping to keep the world’s waterways clear and blue in the years to come.

SourcesDanfoss, via Elecdrive.

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