An Italian ship-builder company, with an established experience in design and production of rubber dinghies, rafts and boats, has developed and field-tested a dual-fuel retrofitting system applicable to both new and after-market boats.
The control unit of the device coordinates the use of the alternative fuel loaded in housed appropriately inside the boat. With a simple three-position switch you can set the preferred method of use: gasoline only, gas only or mixed gas / gasoline.
The engineering has been developed in collaboration with a company operating in the power engines sector.
The use of dual-fuel power engines for terrestrial vehicles is common practice. New vehicles can leave the factory ready for dual fuel powering, or adaptation kits can be added to old vehicles (be they gasoline powered or equipped with a diesel engine) for their use with liquified natural gas (LNG) liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or pressurised methane/compressed natural gas (CNG).
Nonetheless, this technology has not yet entered the marine sector.
The well-known advantages of the engines powered by gas can be summarised as follows: cleaner combustion with reduced particulates, reduced smoke and smells, overall environmental impact lowered by 70%-90% relative to normal gasoline or diesel engines, maximum attainable power almost unchanged (±10% of the original one), tangible savings in operating costs.
The so-called "hybrid ecological boat" has transferred the dual-fuel approach to the marine sector. The particular problem of connection of the motor to the tank with a rigid piping has been solved, showing to reliably work also for outboard motors steered and equipped with "trim tilt" (vertical angle adjustment).
Nonetheless obstacles are still present for a successful break-in of this technology.
The main problem is the current non-existent distribution of gas on the marinas, due to the lack of legislation, in Italy at least. Another limitation is the regulation on the approval of non-liquid fuel vessels and contained in tanks with free air and vent valves.
Joint venture agreements are sought with industrial partners to overcome bottlenecks and obstacles to market development.