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article imageFinland's oldest ferry goes electric

By Tim Sandle     Apr 28, 2017 in Technology
Oripaeae - The oldest operating ferry in Finland, hitherto powered by diesel, is set to be relaunched as the Nordic country's first all-electric ship.
The ferry in question is called the Fori and it first entered service in 1904 as a steam-powered boat. The craft cane to be fitted with diesel engines in 1955. Since then there have been no upgrades to the sturdy ship until 2017 and the coming of electricity. On April 29 the ferry will be relaunched at Aura River in Turku, with electric engines. The reason for the change is to lessen the environmental impact from diesel emissions.
The Aura is a river in south-western Finland; the river makes its way through picturesque towns before it discharges into the Archipelago Sea, in the middle of the city of Turku. The towns may look pretty but the waters of the 43 mile long Aura river are brown. The brown color comes from agricultural runoff from nearby farms. Murky as the waters are, the river is said to support salmon.
One common means for people who live in the towns to travel is by ferry. This is why the reequipping of the Fori is not only of technological interest, it means the continuation of a service that has allowed people to go about their business for over one hundred years.
According to travel guide Lonely Planet: "Dating from 1904, this small, orange passenger and bicycle ferry yo-yos across the river a few blocks downstream of the last bridge."
The Fori will return to service, the BBC reports, replete with electric motors and an electric drive-train system (designed by Finnish company Visedo). The two engines consist of a DC/DC converter, designed to increase the voltage from the batteries together with a permanent magnet motor drive to transform the electrical signal into mechanical energy.
The electric power may save energy and lead to operational efficiency. However, one thing it won't do is increase the speed of the journey. Those taking the ferry will have learned not to rush; even the modified ferry will have a top speed of just over 1 mile per hour (or 2 kilometers per hour).
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