Posts Tagged ‘Clean Fuel Ltd’

Top calibre Excalibur

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

As construction of Team Britannia’s round the world powerboat Excalibur approaches its final stages, here are some of the technical questions which have cropped up recently from social media followers.

State of the art round the world sailing yachts are made from carbon fibre composite. So why not Excalibur? We’ve had a strong eco theme running all the way through the project, and for that reason, we couldn’t consider carbon fibre. Light and strong it may be, but in some quarters it’s regarded as the next asbestos time bomb. It simply isn’t an environmentally friendly material – there’s no responsible way of disposing of it once it’s done with. Excalibur, on the other hand, is not only made from recycled aluminium, but in the event that she’s ever scrapped, over 90% of the boat will be recyclable.

The way she’s been put together is also worthy of note. We’ve used pulsed MIG (Metal Inert Gas), an efficient form of welding which provides a neat strong weld, and is particularly favoured for welding thinner aluminium plate, where the problem of warping and burnthrough would otherwise be a risk. Unlike other forms of welding, there is no spatter which has to be cleaned up afterwards, and it’s also favoured where the welder is operating in a confined space.

One of the great advantages of working in aluminium is the way bits can be added and removed to assist with the construction process. An early example of this would be the extra lugs welded on fore and aft to allow the boat to be turned over from its initial state upside down. With the installation of the six fuel tanks and retaining beams which will also support the wheelhouse floor, the top parts of the original frames in the wheelhouse area have now been removed. And with the FPT engines bolted in, you might wonder too how major servicing or replacement would take place, as the photos show the tops of the frames in the way. Here, too, when the transom is in position, the ceiling of the engine room will be remodelled to allow for a bolt-down hatch which can be unsealed if we need to lift anything in and out. Why did the engines go in first? Simply because it’s a lot easier sliding them in from the back rather than craning them in from above!

The boat has been built to conform to a whole raft of codings, verified at every stage of construction by an independent inspector. Excalibur won’t just be A1 – Lloyds of London’s highest shipbuilding quality – but well in excess!

With the installation of our two FPT diesel engines, some have questioned whether they have the power to push a boat of over 50 tons through the water. But having to run passages of over 3,500 nautical miles, the focus is not on brute force, but maintaining a modest average overall speed. This means that when the boat leaves each port fully fuelled, its initial speed will be quite slow. Then as the fuel burns off and the weight reduces, so the boat picks up speed. More powerful engines wouldn’t necessarily add much to our overall average speed, but could burn significantly more fuel.

Apart from a fuel-saving hull design, we have the most efficient power transmission, with the FPT engines coupled directly to our Castoldi jet drives with no intermediary gearboxes. The final piece of the jigsaw comes with our use of Clean Fuel, the diesel, water and emulsifier mixing process which will not only extend the boat’s range, but power it without emitting any of the pollutants normally associated with diesel engines.

Clive Vlogger

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Funnily enough, my middle name begins with “V”, but Vlogger isn’t it! As part of keeping Team Britannia’s new website constantly moving, I’m endeavouring to update it with words, images and video. Apart from the TV documentary about Spirit of Cardiff’s epic voyage around the world in 2002, that includes a couple of vlogs from me, which Team Britannia skipper Alan Priddy wants to see become more of a regular thing.

I was told many years ago by a TV producer that he thought I had a “great face for radio”, words which at the time stung somewhat as they fell upon my ears. As it happened, I was already doing a lot of radio, and I’d hoped to make a break into telly. And while part of me grudgingly agreed with him, I nevertheless proved him wrong by appearing in a string of TV travel, outdoors and leisure programmes, including a BBC travel show called “The Great Escape” hosted by Nick Knowles!

Even so, I guess I’ve felt somewhat more comfortable behind a camera rather than in front, but in the interests of promoting Team Britannia, my reservations have to take a back seat – not least because I know that once we get our boat in the water and take it around the world, I’m going to be appearing in front of TV cameras a lot!

So, as rough and ready as they are, the vlogs will probably be a good way of easing me back into limelight mode. This latest one from last month was shot in my office, and features Team Britannia’s eco-fuel partner Clean Fuel Ltd.

Team Britannia runs on Clean Fuel

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

I haven’t posted about Team Britannia for some time, but that’s not to say we haven’t been busy. Things have been progressing so quickly it’s hard to keep up! In the last three months we’ve changed tack on the way the project is funded by adopting what you might call self-sponsorship.

Team Britannia principal Alan Priddy has set up a company called Clean Fuel Ltd, promoting the idea of using emulsifiers to allow you to mix water with fuel for a low-pollution burn. And while there are other companies tinkering with the concept, they all seem to be relying on chemists, where what it actually required to make it work properly was an engineer! Alan Priddy has made some important (patent pending) modifications to an existing homogeniser unit, producing a piece of kit which is both affordable and portable.

It makes an important difference for Team Britannia inasmuch as Alan Priddy’s modified homogeniser will be small enough to carry on board the boat, so instead of refuelling at every stop with treated fuel, we simply fill up with standard diesel, which we mix with desalinated seawater and eco-friendly emulsifier as we go. This has never been done before, so it’s another exciting technological aspect which we’ll be showcasing as we power around the world after that record!

While we are now finally close to the point where construction of the boat can begin, the delays over the last few months means we would be pushing it to be ready to set off any time this year, let alone our original November 1st target. The clincher actually came after studying the weather. This year has been an El Niño year, and the effects in the Pacific (and indeed, worldwide) have been the strongest in two decades. The summer has seen a record number of typhoons, and for the first time ever, three category four hurricanes appeared in the Pacific at the same time. As if that isn’t enough, scientists predict El Niño will intensify from September. They’re agreed on the fact that it will carry over into the early part of next year, but not on when it will finish – some say February, some say April.

For our purposes, an attempt to circumnavigate the world can only be made in spring or autumn, so we will now be aiming to set off in March 2016.

Team Britannia has just launched an amazing new website, which when the circumnavigation record attempt takes place, will stream live video, along with performance data from the boat, weather conditions and even bio-data from each crew member. Then you’ll be able to guess whether or not I’m asleep! You can also follow Team Britannia on Facebook.