Russian voyager and survivalist Fedor Konyukhov is preparing to set sail on the first solo trans-Pacific crossing by solar electric catamaran, a 9,000 nautical mile expedition from Chile to Australia which is set to launch in December.
Fedor Konyukhov has already travelled to the North Pole, South Pole, the Pole of Inaccessibility in the Arctic Ocean, the top of Mount Everest, and sailed around the world via Cape Horn four times.
Konyukhov has also set sailing, rowing, and ballooning records, including becoming the second person to circumnavigate the world in a hybrid hot-air helium balloon.
And he is also involved in the Albatross project which includes the design of a solar powered airplane that is able to accomplish the first non-stop circumnavigation of the globe for a plane of its type. At present, the plan for the record-breaking solar-powered circumnavigation is expected to take place in December, 2022.
Before that, however, Konyukhov is planning on attempting the first solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean aboard a solar-powered catamaran as part of the NOVA project.
The solar-powered catamaran has been designed by British designer Phil Morrison, who has previously designed all three of Fedor Konyukhov’s rowboats (the “Uralaz”, “Turgoyak”, and “AKROS”), and will be fitted with flexible heterojunction solar modules produced by Hevel Group, a Russian-based solar manufacturer.
Measuring in at 11 metres in length and 7 metres wide, the NOVA catamaran will be able to reach speeds of up to 5-7 knots.
Driven by electric motors and powered by Hevel Group’s solar panels, the catamaran will be able to generate up to 11kW of power. The main body of the catamaran will be covered with 66m² of Hevel Group’s flexible hetero-junction solar modules, which will be the main driving force of the vessel’s power.
Another 12m² worth of solar modules will be installed on the sides of the hull, which will not be as efficient as those installed atop the deck but will hopefully provide additional electricity when the sun is low on the horizon and from light reflected off the water’s surface.
In addition to powering the catamaran’s motors, the electricity generated by the solar panels is also intended to guarantee a supply of fresh water, thanks to its solar-powered desalination system.
The expedition will take approximately 100 days and travel from Valparaiso in Chile, along the coast of South America, towards Lima in Peru, and then through French Polynesia to Brisbane.
Konyukhov will also be maintaining a video blog during his crossing and will also monitor the plastic pollution of the Pacific Ocean, with the collected data to be then analysed by the Russian Academy of Science.
“It can stay autonomous in the ocean for up to 6 months and go as far as needed, without any limitations,” said Fedor Konyukhov’s son, Oscar Konuykhov, who is also the team leader of the expedition project.
“State-of-the-art technologies allow it to monitor the environment and take water samples automatically. Built with proven technologies, NOVA can run in dangerous environmental conditions, even in disaster areas.”
“Fedor Konuykhov constantly challenges both himself and the limits of existing technologies,” added Hevel CEO, Igor Shakhray.
“We are sure that such projects are an ideal way to demonstrate the capacities of solar power and push R&D even further. Aquatic applications of solar are evolving fast and I’m sure we will soon see commercial PV-based marine transport of all sizes.
Solar-powered vessels represent the perfect kind of transport for delicate ecosystems, but in order to preserve the planet’s water resources we must treat every body of water as fragile”.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.