None of us likes wasting money. None of us likes polluting the air. This blog comes in three flavours. A few words here, a short video on YouTube and a lengthy engineering assessment of the different ways of propelling a narrowboat.
When a narrowboat powered by a standard diesel engine is gently cruising down the cut, its engine is running at about 10% of its potential power, and 40% of its potential economy. That is, for every £1 spent on diesel, 60p is wasted because the engine is running so gently.
We can give the engine some more work to do, and as a consequence improve its efficiency by adding a generator that it drives in parallel with the propeller. The electricity generated can be used to drive a motor later in the day. By doing this we can reduce the waste to 50p. Good, but not brilliant because we're still not really challenging this engine.
If we really want to get the engine efficiency up, we need to use a smaller engine and get it to work hard, just generating electricity. Then use a motor to drive the propeller. This is a "series hybrid" system, and will waste less than 40p.
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For the more academic, here is the technical analysy.
If anyone has comments on this paper, I would be most happy to receive them and possibly improve the text.