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Niagara Maid Of The Mist Becomes Electric

Maid of the Mist
The sightseeing vessels that transport millions to the base of Niagara Falls every year will soon be powered by renewable hydroelectricity.

Visitors to the iconic Niagara Falls will soon be able to experience the landmark emission-free. Two new Maid of the Mist passenger vessels will be powered entirely by high-capacity battery packs. (Image source: Artist rendering from ABB)

Two new electrified Maid of the Mist passenger vessels will soon be taking visitors to base of Niagara Falls.  One of North America’s oldest tourist attractions (1846), the sightseeing service operates from April through to the first week of November. The boats boats depart for the base of Niagara Falls every 30 minutes, and carry an estimated 1.6 million visitors to the base of the iconic falls annually.

In September of this year, two new electric vessels that benefit from ABB’s zero-emission technology will begin operating, providing guests an experience undisturbed by engine noise, vibration or exhaust fumes from a conventional diesel engine.

Quiet and Efficient

“We are thrilled to be the US’s first vessel owner to add all-electric ferries to our fleet,” said Christopher M. Glynn, president of Maid of the Mist Corp. “We have chosen ABB to support us in our journey towards more sustainable operation based on their unparalleled experience in marine system integration, as well as efficient and innovative technologies for sustainable transportation," he added in a news release from ABB.

ABB's Electrification business offers a wide-ranging portfolio of products that are designed to enable safe, smart, and sustainable electrification. The company is closely involved in a variety of sustainable transportation projects, as well as ground-based grid support for renewable power. Shipping accounts for 2 to 3 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions and electrification is one way to reduce those emissions. The International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency responsible for regulating shipping, has set a global target to cut annual emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 from 2008 levels.

“Maid of the Mist’s decisive move towards e-mobility signals a new era in the future of transportation and complements ABB’s commitment to power the world without consuming the earth,” said Peter Terwiesch, President of the Industrial Automation business at ABB. “Reducing emissions at Niagara Falls is not only important for the natural landmark, but also proves that the technologies enabling sustainable mobility are already available today,” he said.

Two Power Systems On Each Vessel

Each of the vessels will be powered by a pair of battery packs with a total capacity of 316 kWh, split evenly between two catamaran hulls. It is noted in the ABB news release that having two fully independent power systems on board will increase the resilience of operations by creating a redundancy.

The vessels will charge between every trip and charging at the dock will only take seven minutes. The batteries power the electric propulsion motors, capable of a total 400 kW (563 HP) output. The power setup will be controlled by ABB’s integrated Power and Energy Management System (PEMS), which will optimize the energy use on board.

It is also noted that, “The batteries will be charged using hydropower – the largest single renewable energy source for electricity generation in the US, which accounts for 7 percent of the country’s total utility-scale electricity generation. The use of locally produced renewable power will make the energy cycle for the operation of the new Maid of the Mist vessels entirely emission-free.”

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.

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