Pacific Ocean crossing aboard the solar-powered catamaran “NOVA”

Between 2021 and 2022 Fedor Konyukhov plans to attempt the first solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean aboard a solar-powered catamaran NOVA. Part of project NOVA is the construction of an 11m ocean-class catamaran equipped with electric motors and flexible solar modules.

Pacific ocean crossing should take place in December 2021, will see Fedor cross the Pacific Ocean from continent to continent along the route: “Chile (Concon) – Australia (Brisbane)”, with a distance of around 9,000 miles and taking up to 4 months.

The unique catamaran is being designed by British designer Phil Morrison, who has previously designed all three of Fedor Konyukhov’s rowboats (the “Uralaz”, “Turgoyak”, and “AKROS”). The construction of the vessel will take place at the UK shipyard Rannoch Adventure.

Measuring devices will be installed aboard the NOVA catamaran, in order to monitor the work of the solar modules and on-board batteries. The data retrieved will be given to the project’s technological partners, as well as being used for project “Albatross – a non-stop flight around the world on solar energy”.

During his crossings, Fedor Konyukhov will keep a video diary and make ecological observations of the ocean, daily noting the presence of plastic waste in the ocean.

The solar-powered transpacific crossing project is the result of close team collaboration and several solutions invented by Mikhail Lifshitz , ROTEC JSC General Designer, who developed methods to power sea and river vessels using electricity-supplied engines, solar panels and the albedo effect. Numerous essential parts, protected by patents filed by Mikhail Lifshitz, have also helped to make this odyssey possible. He has developed ways to manufacture flexible photoelectric modules and electrochemical cells batteries, as well as ways to control the operation of composite solid-state electrochemical DC sources.

Mikhail Lifshitz , ROTEC JSC General Designer, said: “When we were thinking about the best way to test our products, we couldn’t have thought of a better option than the extreme conditions that our good old friend, the courageous and unstoppable adventurer Fedor Konuykhov, experiences during his world record expeditions. So, building a solar-powered vessel seemed ideal for that matter. I am really pleased to see how our technological ideas can find their application and serve as reliable solutions in such an ambitious challenge. Moreover, all the data collected during the transpacific crossing will be used in our “Albatross project” – the first non-stop solar powered flight around the world. I’ve no doubt that these are concrete steps toward a better carbon neutral future for transport”.

Yury Krasovskiy, Liga Stavok CEO: “It is an honor and a great inspiration to be a part of such an outstanding international project. I am certain that a synergy of the latest technological achievements and endless human capabilities will lead to the exceptional results. The expedition will play a significant role in further development of science, sports and ocean exploration.”

Dmitry Mramorov, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SKB Кontur said: “Once more Fedor Konyukhov is faced with a daunting task – to cross alone, aboard a unique vessel, two oceans powered only by the energy of the sun. Not only will the journey once again push the boundaries of human capabilities, but it will also be an experiment – this time an ecological one. We will be observing a true phenomenon in our contemporary – Fedor Konyukhov – a person whose extraordinary accomplishments are attributed to determination, discipline, faith, experience and quality preparation. People like Fedor Konyukhov radically broaden the horizons of human possibilities and our perception of the world we live in. We support this project and we hope that solar energy and Fedor Konyukhov will help bring this project to life”.

Technical specifications of the NOVA catamaran: 

Length
11.25 m
Width
7.25 m
Weight
2.2t
Battery weight
528 kg (24 batteries, weighing 22 kg each) Victron Lithium
Hull material
Carbon fibre
Solar Panels
66 m2

 

In accordance with the project, the total surface area of the primary solar modules, horizontally laid on the upper deck, is 51m2 with a peak output of 9 kilowatts. This is estimated to give, in average conditions for the time and place of departure, the capacity to generate 32 kilowatt hours (kWh) per day.

In addition the surface area of the solar modules installed on the hulls and angled toward the horizon is 15 m2. This addition allows for an extra yield of 4kWh per day from the illuminated side.

In accordance with the order by the Fedor Konyukhov Expeditionary Headquarters, special cells on a flexible substrate were manufactured at the “Hevel” Scientific and Technical Centre in St. Petersburg. The task of scientists from the scientific and technical centre was to make cells resistant to the corrosive aquatic environment and ultraviolet radiation and with the lowest possible weight.

“Today, Russian technology and our accumulated experience allowed us to implement the most ambitious projects on water and in the air. One of the key values of such cooperation for us, as a manufacturer, is to develop effective solar solutions in the most strenuous conditions for their subsequent mass production and usage in wide applications” said Igor Shakhrai, CEO of the “Hevel” company group.

The power consumption of the two electric motors to achieve the designed speed is 1.5kW requiring a supply of 36 kWh to run 24 hours. In addition a battery capacity of 60 kWh allows for the motors to operate continuously for 40 hours, which will alleviate the negative impact of cloudy weather and cloud cover. On the other hand in ideal conditions the motors will be able to be run at increased power.

The NOVA solar powered catamaran goals:

  • Completing the first (in history) solo crossings of the Pacific Oceans using solar energy;
  • Testing a Russian-made photovoltaic cells in marine conditions under constant use over a prolonged period;
  • Carrying out battery testing over a prolonged period while under a constant load. The results from solar cell testing from the catamaran project, including the long-term field tests will be used by the Albatros project.
  • Working with leading Russian oceanographers and scientific institutions to monitor ecological factors such as pollution of the Atlantic Ocean by microplastics. The catamaran is fitted with a sea-water filter. Fedor Konyukhov will gather data daily throughout his journey.
  • Ecologically, unmanned oceanic vessels will be instrumental in monitoring pollution in the world’s oceans, as well as factors such as climate change and oceanic salinity.

The technological task: testing electric unmanned ocean craft technologies and solar modules as a power source.

It is worth noting that Fedor Konyukhov has significant experience with nautical expeditions. During his whole career, he has completed 5 solo circumnavigations and three oceanic crossings aboard a rowboat:

1990-1991 The first solo circumnavigatory journey in Russia’s history aboard the “Karaana” yacht (36 foot). Route: Sydney (Australia) – Cape Horn – Equator – Sydney. Time taken: 224 days.

1993-1994 – Second solo circumnavigatory journey aboard the dual-mast ketch “Formosa” (56-foot). Route: Taiwan – Hong Kong – Singapore – Yemen (Port Aden) – Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) – Suez Canal – Gibraltar – Casablanca (Morocco) – Saint Lucia (Caribbean Islands) – Panama Canal – Honolulu (Hawaiian Islands) – Taiwan – city of Nakhodka (Russia).

1998 – Third solo circumnavigatory journey as part of the race “Around Alone” aboard the yacht “International Humanitarian University” (60-feet). Route: USA – RSA – New Zealand – Cape Horn (Chile) – Uruguay – USA.

2002 Solo crossing of the Atlantic ocean aboard the rowboat “Uralaz” (7m). Route: Canary Islands (La Gomera) – Barbados. Time taken: 46 days.

2004-2005 Fourth solo circumnavigatory journey aboard a the yacht “Trading Network “Alye Parusa” (85-foot). Route: Falmouth (England) – Hobart (Tasmania) – Falmut (England).

2007 Fifth solo non-stop journey around Antarctica for the “Antarctica Cup” Trophy aboard the yacht “Trading Network “Alye Parusa” (85-foot). Albany (Australia) – Cape Horn – Cape of Good Hope – Cape Llewin – Albany.

2013-2014 Solo journey aboard the rowboat “Turgoyak” (9m). Route: Concon (Chile) – Mooloolaba (Australia). Time taken: 160 days.

2018-2019 The first in history solo crossing of the South Pacific ocean aboard the rowboat “AKROS” (9m). Route: Port Dunedin (New Zealand) – Diego Ramirez islands (Chile, Drake Passage). Began – 6 December 2018 Finished – 9 May 2019, over 154 days, 13 hours, and 27 minutes covered, a total distance of 11,525 kilometres, or 6.400 nautical miles.

 

 PARTNERS OF THE NOVA PROJECT

  • Liga Stavok – main partner of the project
  • Eco-Niva – official partner of the project
  • Rostselmash – official partner of the project
  • ROTEC – official partner of the project
  • SKB Kontur – official partner of the project
  • Red Fox – official supplier of the team’s equipment
  • DHL Express – official logistical partner for the project
  • Iridium – official satellite communication provider for the project
  • Iridium360 RockSTAR – official satellite tracker for the project
  • Lenovo – official supplier of office equipment and mobile phones
  • Hevel Solar – official solar panels supplier
  • UMATEX – official supplier of carbon fibre

 

More stories about the project:

Maritime adventurer sets his sights on solar-powered trip. Otago Daily Times

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