ISA Aims for Zero – Emissions, That Is

Many builders I’ve spoken with in recent weeks say that clients are requesting more low-emission or even no-emission options for their yachts. While some brokerage houses have seen a related increase in sales of and inquiries in sailing yachts, the market is still dominated by owners who want power yachts. To that end, ISA has become the latest builder to propose a diesel-electric hybrid project. Called 390 Zero, the design was created with input from ...

14th October 2009.
By Diane Byrne

ISA 390 Zero

Many builders I’ve spoken with in recent weeks say that clients are requesting more low-emission or even no-emission options for their yachts. While some brokerage houses have seen a related increase in sales of and inquiries in sailing yachts, the market is still dominated by owners who want power yachts. To that end, ISA has become the latest builder to propose a diesel-electric hybrid project.

Called 390 Zero, the design was created with input from MarQuip and Siemens, each a leader in exhaust and motor technology, respectively. The centerpiece of the design is a power system employing a lithium-ion magnesium-phosphate battery pack, twin diesel gensets and twin diesel engines, and particle filters for both the gensets and engines. Depending on which power source is running, significant reductions in emissions can reportedly occur.

For example, even at the 14.8-knot top speed, which will be generated solely by the traditional engines, carbon-monoxide levels should be brought down by 80 percent. In addition, hydrocarbons should be reduced by 50 percent, nitrogen oxides by 20 percent, soot by 50 percent, and diesel odor by 75 percent. Also in this mode, the battery bank will be receiving a constant charge.

For further lowered levels, ISA established “low-emissions mode.” In this case, the 390 Zero will run on the gensets, with the particle filters on. The yacht will be capable of about 9 knots and see carbon-monoxide reduction increase to 95 percent, hydrocarbons reduced by 75 percent, and soot reduction at 75 percent. (The other emission levels remain the same as in traditional operating mode.) Just like in normal engine mode, the batteries will be charging the entire time.

If an owner wishes to tap those batteries’ energy, they can do so in “zero emissions mode.” ISA says the 390 Zero will be able to travel at 6 knots for up to three hours on battery power alone – no carbon monoxide, no other by-products or odor.

There are also varying emissions levels anticipated for anchoring situations. With one generator operating, its particle filter and catalyst also running, the 390 Zero should emit 95 percent lower carbon-monoxide levels in comparison to traditional superyachts. Hydrocarbons should also be 70 percent lower, nitrogen oxides 20 percent lower, soot 97 percent lower, and diesel odor 75 percent lower. With just the battery bank running, for a maximum of eight hours, ISA says there will be zero emissions.

Realizing that diesel-electric propulsion still hasn’t made many inroads into the yachting sector, ISA is offering on-call 24-hour technical assistance. The yard’s technicians will be able to tap into the onboard power-management system remotely via an encrypted connection and diagnose the difficulty.

ISA 390 Zero gymnasium layout

The ISA 390 Zero is being offered in two layouts, one with four guest staterooms below decks, the other with three plus a gym (see above). Either way, the owner’s suite is forward on the main deck, with a dedicated office space. The rest of the rooms are laid out traditionally, as are the tender-stowage bays aft and forward.

It remains to be seen just how many owners will commission more environmentally friendly yachts like the 390 Zero. But it is good to see ISA and others being more forward-thinking.


About the author:

Diane Byrne

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Diane M. Byrne is the founder and editor of the website Megayacht News. A longtime yachting writer, she contributes to Super Yacht World, Superyacht Business, Boat Exclusive, and other magazines. She is additionally a member of the International Superyacht Society Board of Directors and a founding member of the U.S. Superyacht Association.
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