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Cruising on solar energy

Boat with photovoltaic plates on its canopy will travel across Peri Lagoon in Florianópolis

UFSCBoat with photovoltaic plates on its canopy will travel across Peri Lagoon in FlorianópolisUFSC

Silently, using not a drop of fuel and emitting no pollutants, a solar-powered aluminum catamaran that can carry up to 16 people will soon be gliding across Peri Lagoon in the city of Florianópolis, state of Santa Catarina. The boat’s canopy is covered in photovoltaic solar modules, and also carries the eight batteries and other equipment necessary for the operation of four electrical motors installed at the stern of the vessel. The boat was designed by the Group for Strategic Research on Solar Energy at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), coordinated by Professor Ricardo Rüther. “We received a R$100,000 grant from CNPq [National Council for Scientific and Technological Development] for our solar boat project in 2010. We purchased the materials and did the necessary integration,” says Rüther. “Then we completed the tests and official registration.” The project also received collaboration from the Ekko Brasil Institute, an NGO whose Otter Project, sponsored by Petrobras, will use the boat on Peri Lagoon in Florianópolis to research otters and carry out environmental education initiatives in this part of the Atlantic Forest reserve, where gasoline-powered motor vehicles are prohibited. “Otters are very shy and reclusive animals. It is extremely important that the approach be noiseless, otherwise it could stress the animals and compromise the entire research process,” explains Oldemar Carvalho Júnior, project and research manager at the Ekko Institute.