Mastervolt accelerates research into marine renewables with a brand new €200,000 power lab

Mastervolt, the Dutch-based leader in marine, solar and off-grid power products has invested in a major new research laboratory to drive forward its quest for ever more efficient electrical generation and propulsion systems. This will greatly assist the company in further developing its extensive range of hybrid and electrical drives for boats, with longer ranges and an even greater ability to regenerate underway.


Now part of the giant American Actuant Group, Mastervolt has access to a wide range of new – and previously competing – power products, especially within the mobile, solar and marine markets, and these products are gradually being merged into one impressive portfolio of solutions.


The modern and extensive new laboratory carries state-of-the-art equipment, such as the Ametek RS90-SNK High Power AC Source. This is one of only two such units in the Netherlands, and cost over €100,000 alone. The RS90 can exactly simulate 3-phase AC utility grids with all the peaks, troughs and sudden blackouts that boaters have suffered when connected to some of the world’s less reliable shore power hook-ups. It will be used to expand Mastervolt’s range of intelligent and highly efficient inverters. True to its renewable energy mission, Mastervolt specified the ‘green’ version of the RS90 (for an extra €45,000) that enables the lab to regenerate 80% of the power used during testing.


Also included in the new Power Lab are three Regatron 1000V/40A/32kW DC Sources to simulate the output of solar cells in a variety of conditions, from sunrise to sunset, under grey skies, blazing sunshine, or partial shade. Data is collated by a new Yokogawa WT1800 High Precision Power Analyser, which can measure power conversion down to literally hundreths of a percent.


In order to simulate climatic conditions in an engine room anywhere from the polar ice caps to the Equator, a Votsch WK1000 climatic chamber has been installed which can set any temperature between -85oC and +180oC, and change relative humidity to any value between 10% and 99%.  Innovations destined for life in the most challenging of engine spaces will be trialled here.


Other equipment includes three diesel cabins for testing diesel/electric hybrids, and an electrical propulsion torque bench, enabling the R&D team to analyse both electrical and mechanical output and regeneration potential from an electrical propulsion system to the highest degree of accuracy. This new bench can handle loads of up to 20kW, replacing an earlier 5kW tester.


“The Power Lab is a major investment in our bid to take our products forward with a constant programme of development, improvement and innovation,” said Daan Hobbelen, Product Development Manager, Marine & Mobile, Mastervolt.  Hobbelen will be closely involved with the new Power Lab, particularly in the field of e-propulsion with an emphasis on regeneration.


“The new Lab will enable us to test products of up to 50kW,” he said. “We are convinced that highly efficient electrical propulsion sourced from renewable sources such as solar panels, wind power and the free-wheeling propellers of boats under sail is the future for the leisure boating industry. This Lab will help us to achieve new goals for conversion efficiency.”


The new Lab is based at Mastervolt’s headquarters in Amsterdam, and became operational in May 2012. 


For more information please visit Mastervolt.

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