By Jody McCutcheon
Personal watercrafts are a great source of fun and freedom on weekend waterside getaways. Historically, however, most jetski brands have been cruel to marine ecosystems, through excessive emissions (up to 15 litres of unburned gas and oil per hour), unceasing noise pollution and haphazard water disturbances. Many parks and recreation areas have rightfully banned them for those reasons.
Happilly, Slovenian company Quadrofoil d.o.o. wants to alter the personal watercraft’s eco-badboy image. The sporty, two-person Quadrofoil PWC, an eco-friendly jet ski which debuted at the 2012 Internautica exhibition in Slovenia, exploits hydrofoil technology and a lightweight (150kg) carbon-fibre and Kevlar body to coax a top speed of 40km/h from a 3.7kW electric motor. (If you want more speed, the Quadrofoil accommodates an auxiliary outboard motor—ideally an electric one.)
At speeds above 12km/h, the 3m-long craft lifts out of the water on whale-fin–like “legs,” or foils, thereby decreasing the amount of surface area interacting with the water. This minimizes the effects of turbulence and drag and maximizes craft speed. A pillow of air between raised hull and water surface acts as a shock absorber, leading to a smooth, bump-free ride.
The electric engine is soundless and emission-free, while the hydrofoil action creates almost no wake, even at top speed, since the craft displaces so little water. For these reasons the Quadrofoil is gentle on marine life and habitats. A 4.5kW rechargeable lithium battery allows the craft a range of 62 miles (100km), while detachable flexible solar panels are provided to charge the battery in emergencies. It also recharges in an hour on domestic power sources.
The Quadrofoil is being produced on a small scale until the designers find sufficient funding to expand production. Fingers crossed. It’s an idea that’s too exciting and eco-friendly to fail.