What is a better way to transport Toyota hybrids from Japan? A hybrid ship, of course – at least that is the hope of those endeavoring to cut costs, pollution and fuel consumption from an otherwise wasteful process.
This month, Toyota will begin shipping its hybrid vehicles via a floating experiment examining the viability of innovative technologies in shipping called the Auriga Leader.
Since 2009, the ship has received a healthy trickle of juice from 328 solar cells. Now it has been fitted with large nickel-hydrogen batteries to offset the massive energy consumption of its diesel engines.
According to Gas 2.0, an average car carrying ship requires 120 gallons of diesel fuel per mile (28,225 litres/100km). Yep, forget about “mpg” familiar to the automotive world. We’re talking 120 gpm – on one level, it makes the offset fuel savings by efficient cars seem rather paltry when you think about it.
The shipping expenses also represent a cost of doing business, and Toyota and the shipping industry as a whole would like to whittle that down any way feasible.
The initial installation of the Auriga Leader’s 328 solar cells did shave slivers from its annual fuel requirement by 13 tons, and they cut annual CO2 emissions by 40 tons. This is about one percent of the energy required by the ship’s electric equipment and .05 percent of its propulsion power.
To date, the ship’s new updated efficiency rating as a result of the massive nickel-hydrogen batteries has not been reported but it is expected to be a fair amount better.
The ship’s generator has also been retrofitted to run on low-sulfur diesel fuel.
The cost-for-benefit analysis for the solar panels have proven them a win, and now the battery-diesel system will also be evaluated.
If the hybrid ship is deemed cost effective, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and the NYK shipping line intend to make the technology commercially available for more ocean-going vessels.