Nichols-built aquaculture vessel will feature Cat battery hybrid propulsion

Written by Nick Blenkey
Aualculture vessel

Aquaculture vessel was designed by by Kirk Mullen at Oceantech Ltd., a South Island, New Zealand based naval architecture firm

Caterpillar Marine reports that it has entered into an agreement with California-based Pacific6 Enterprises to pilot a parallel battery hybrid propulsion system for a first-of-its kind aquaculture farming vessel.

Designed by Kirk Mullen at Oceantech Ltd., a South Island, New Zealand-based naval architecture firm, the aquaculture vessel will be constructed at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, Wash. Caterpillar Marine dealer N C Power Systems (Seattle, Wash.) will sell and oversee installation and commissioning of the new hybrid equipment.

Powered by a Cat C18 engine and battery hybrid solution, the next-generation hybrid boat will use proven electrical components and power electronics from Caterpillar’s construction and mining product lines.

Pacific Mariculture, a subsidiary of venture capital group Pacific6 Enterprises, is currently pioneering development of the first-ever offshore aquaculture farm in the United States which will be located off the coast of Southern California. True to its core philosophy of ensuring sustainability in its investment and development projects, Pacific6 Enterprises was determined to employ a battery-hybrid propulsion and auxiliary solution to minimize environmental impact.

“Aquaculture is at the heart of our efforts to sustainably provide seafood for the future. Finding novel ways to reduce our carbon footprint is central to those efforts,” said John Molina, founding partner at Pacific6 Enterprises. “We are thrilled that our work, alongside Caterpillar, will create a vessel with more than 1 MWh of stored energy; making this one of the most sustainable aquaculture vessels in the world.”

The vessel will be equipped with 961 kWh of battery capacity supplied by Caterpillar Marine to enable zero exhaust emissions while operating solely on battery power in both farming operations as well as port departure and entry.

Caterpillar Marine will also provide the complete integration of the hybrid propulsion system, including motor/generator unit (MGU), inverter and system supervisory controls, effectively reducing the number of installed diesel engines from two to one.

“We are proud to have been selected by Pacific6 Enterprises to work together on this exciting project,” said Derrick York, managing director of Caterpillar Marine.” We feel that this aquaculture vessel is a great example of our capabilities in collaborating with customers to deliver sustainable solutions and for demonstrating our next generation of integrated hybrid architecture.”

Under the agreement, Caterpillar Marine and Pacific6 Enterprises will work to optimize the hybrid system operation to achieve minimal operating costs and environmental footprint. “We look forward to this growing relationship with Caterpillar, as we work together to ensure sustainable farming solutions for the future,” commented Molina.

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