The University of Malta proudly showcased two of its very successful projects at the Valletta Boat Show 2016 which took place in Cospicua last weekend. Through the initiative of the Knowledge Transfer Office, the stand was set up to promote University developed technologies to a broader audience, with an aim of increasing opportunities for commercialisation.
The prototype of the Innovative Catamaran demonstrates state of the art green solutions in water transport. It incorporates the latest technologies in electric drive system, battery monitoring and management, smart charging and flexible photovoltaics with integrated design.
The University has been developing a smart charging system for electric and hybrid boats that can be tailored to the needs of any drive systems. The aim of the catamaran is to demonstrate any configuration of drive systems, therefore it includes solar cells, fuel cells and connection to the grid.
The added value of the smart charging system is in the constant monitoring and control of the batteries. It ensures that the batteries are always charged and discharged in the optimum way relative to the use and source of electricity, it can be controlled remotely and in case of positive energy balance, it can feed the excess electricity into the grid. The main advantages of such smart charging is the extended lifetime and the higher performance level of batteries, what makes the electric boats more usable and competitive.
The development is a collaborative effort of the University of Malta, Abertax Technologies Ltd, Petecraft Ltd, Cassar Ship Repair Ltd, Altern Ltd, Buccaneer Boats Ltd, Crosscraft Company Ltd and IBC Solar. The project is at an advanced stage, a second prototype is under construction with an expected delivery time in the second half of the year. This will be followed by the certification of the catamaran by mid 2017. Beyond direct benefits to operators, green water transport also contributes to sustainable tourism and conservation of coastal area by eliminating CO2 emission and reducing noise emission, which ultimately delivers benefits to the whole population of the island.
The second remarkable University of Malta project exhibited at the Valletta Boat Show was KAPTAN. The equivalent Maltese word for 'Captain', this is a smartphone application developed within the CALYPSO project led by Prof. Aldo Drago from the Physical Oceanography Research Group within the Department of Geosciences.
Sea farers navigating in the proximity of the Maltese Islands and southern Sicily now have a new aid for planning their journeys and safer trips. Just a few clicks on a phone app leads users to a myriad of sea and weather data in the form of interactive maps providing instantaneous user friendly and user defined access to prevailing conditions at sea, as well as short term past and forecast information.
The data for this integrated service to mariners is mainly derived from the Calypso HF radar observing system, consisting of HF radar CODAR SaaSonde installations on the northern Maltese and southern Sicilian shores at four selected sites. Satellite observations added to high resolution weather and marine numerical models, run at the University of Malta specifically for the Malta-Sicily Channel, provide a full suite of very local reporting, and complement other weather forecasts derived from GFS/WRF models and local weather stations.
The phone app can be downloaded for free for both Android and iOS devices (Google Play and App Store on iTunes respectively). The same services are also available online.
Finally, a phone app created to serve local mariners, divers, windsurfers, environmentalists….
See the video guide available online.
The CALYPSO project also comprises four Sicilian partners: University of Palermo (Polo Territoriale Universitario della Provincia di Trapani) as Sicilian Focal Point, L'Istituto per l'Ambiente Marino Costiero del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (IAMC-CNR), University of Catania (CUTGANA) and ARPA SICILIA (Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente), and three other Maltese partners: Transport Malta, Armed Forces of Malta and Civil Protection Department.
The project is partially funded by the ERDF Italia – Malta Programme, Cohesion Policy 2007-2013.