HERE COMES THE SUN
SOLAR ELECTRIC KAYAK TO MAKE NEARLY 2,000 MILE JOURNEY
Raphaël Domjan has an ambitious plan. This summer, the eco-adventurer intends to travel the Northwest Passage along the northern coast of North America from the Pacific to the Atlantic with an electric kayak, propelled by an Ultralight 403 from Torqeedo.
Domjan hit the international headlines back in May 2012. The Swiss engineer circumnavigated the earth for the first time in a solar-propelled catamaran, Planet Solar. His latest goal is to master the Northwest Passage. Domjan, who will be accompanied by the kayak-adventurer Anne Quéméré, faces a journey of more than 1,800 miles. Embarking in June 2015, it will be the first solar expedition through the legendary Northwest Passage. The 43-year-old’s expedition, SolarArcticPassage, will take the route discovered by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1895. The goal is 100 kilometers, about 63 miles, a day.
Sunlight is less intense in the Arctic than at any other place on earth. But that is exactly why Domjan will conduct the expedition; to demonstrate that solar electric-powered mobility is possible anywhere on earth. Despite the difficulties, the Arctic offers one important advantage – during the summer the Arctic Circle remains light for over 20 hours a day. The solar energy gained from the small surface of the kayak nevertheless remains extremely precious.
That is why Domjan has chosen the lightweight and highly efficient Ultralight 403 drive system from Starnberg’s high-tech manufacturer Torqeedo. Weighing just 16 pounds, including the battery, the Ultralight is the world’s lightest outboard in serial production. In addition, it converts limited energy supply into propulsive power extremely efficiently. The photovoltaic modules mounted on the kayak feed the Ultralight’s lithium batteries which, in turn, supply the motor with its energy.
The starting point for the solar expedition is the small Canadian settlement of Tuktoyaktuk. Even in the summer months, temperatures struggle to reach the freezing point and are accompanied by rain and snow. Icebergs and ice floes risk damage to the kayak and motor and the area is home to polar bears. Domjan will maneuver his kayak through this labyrinth of ice for approximately 14 hours a day – an enormous challenge. If he succeeds, he will be the first person to traverse the Northwest Passage in an electric-powered kayak when he reaches the settlement at Pond Inlet in September, 2015. His full route can be seen at http://bit.ly/1L2N6t3.
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