All-electric passenger ship a first

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The all-electric passenger ship Junlyu sails on the Yangtze River. [Photo/China Daily]

China State Shipbuilding Corp, a State-owned shipbuilding conglomerate, recently delivered the country's first all-electric passenger ship to a company that transports passengers and runs sightseeing trips on the Yangtze River.

The Junlyu has been in commercial operation since mid-November with Wuhan Tourism Development and Investment Group, a State-owned tour operator in Wuhan, Hubei's provincial capital, according to the Wuhan Institute of Marine Electric Propulsion, a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corp.

The institute, which designed and built the vessel's propulsion system, said in a statement on Thursday that Junlyu is the first fully battery-powered passenger ship in China.

It said the ship is as quiet as a limousine and produces no polluting emissions. The ship's technologies and capabilities, all developed by Chinese engineers, are world-class, the statement said.

The institute, established in 1963, is the only developer of hydrogen and electric power systems in China's shipbuilding industry.

It said Junlyu is 53.2 meters long, 13.4 meters wide, and has a displacement of 410 metric tons. The ship can carry 300 passengers and sail at speeds of up to 19 kilometers per hour. At speeds of less than 13 km/h, it can travel for eight hours.

Before Junlyu, all China's passenger ships were powered by diesel-based engines or ones that combined diesel and battery power, the statement said, adding that the only fully electric vessels were some small boats used by parks for visitors' entertainment.

Gui Wenbin, the head of the institute, said Junlyu features a series of technological advances, including high-efficiency, variable-frequency drive technology.

Eco-friendly propulsion is a direction of development for the shipbuilding industry and has become the institute's major research subject, Gui said at Marintec China 2019, a marine industry exhibition, in Shanghai on Thursday.

Weng Yubo, an industry analyst with China State Shipbuilding Corp, said more than 50 all-electric ships have been delivered to operators around the world over the past two years, with Europe leading research on and deployment of such vessels.

He said electric vessels will soon have bright market prospects because a lot of passenger ships on China's rivers are nearing the end of their designed lives.

Chinese researchers have been looking for alternative modes of propulsion for the nation's aircraft and ships, which are heavily dependent on fossil fuels, for several years.

They have developed and flight-tested several prototypes of all-electric planes and are conducting research and developing key parts for an electrically powered helicopter.

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