Project Venice Winter Update

Hybrid Taxi Boat in front of Grand Harbour Hotel (Southampton, UK) during Hybrid Boat workshops.

Hybrid Taxi Boat in front of Grand Harbour Hotel (Southampton, UK) during Hybrid Boat workshops.

In Pursuit of a Better Way

With huge thanks to our sponsors and supporters around the World, we’re delighted to bring you a final update this year regarding Project Venice: our pioneering endeavour to develop a drop-in Marine Hybrid drivetrain.

It’s been a busy autumn - both in and out of the water… The Taxi Boat had an outing at Southampton Sustainability Week and Workshops (read more below) and is expected to become a complete Hybrid after the Christmas Break.

Until then we wish all of you a very good holiday and a great start into the new year!

Testing, Testing…

Following its final test run of 2016, our prototype boat is now out of the water, ready to be fitted with the battery and the rest of the components that make up the hybrid system. The last tests we’ve conducted this autumn were with the diesel system alone. This enabled us to log vital baseline data such as speed and fuel consumption and check our propeller fit (see graph).

The blue dotted line shows the propeller curve that we had predicted and the black line with triangles shows the actual data recorded on the test run. Both lines do show nicely that we chose the correct propeller for this boat and engine and we are likely to hit the engine's max power at max RPM.
We can now use the data collected on this last test run to simulate how the boat will act as a hybrid system.

Sold Out at Sustainability Week!

We were delighted to provide an insight into the world of sustainable marine technology as part of Southampton Sustainability Week in October. There, our Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Dr Dennis Doerffel, delivered an inspirational talk at the University of Southampton at which he was able to raise awareness of Project Venice.

Later in the week we gave members of the public the opportunity to take to the water on our electric rib.

Two days’ worth of tickets sold out almost immediately, prompting us to offer another day to our packed schedule!

Nearly 40 people and two film crews got in on the action and, without exception, everyone was impressed by the rib’s performance and silence. Dennis also explained the Venice Taxi Boat Hybrid System and answered any questions. 


It was a perfect opportunity for us to inform and demonstrate the benefits of electric and hybrid vehicles of all types.

Will we be getting involved in Sustainability events like this again next year? Definitely!

You can watch a couple of videos about the Sustainability Week by clicking here.

A Grand Entrance

If you happened to drive past Southampton’s iconic waterfront Grand Harbour Hotel in late October, you couldn’t help but notice our Venetian water taxi in pride of place on the front lawn (see image above). It was there for the duration of the Next Generation Hybrid Power & Propulsion Workshop, during which Dennis was asked to talk about developing Hybrid Commercial Off The Shelf solutions for commercial, leisure and military craft.
Dennis presentation triggered a staggering level of interest from participants and we hope to announce some exciting news in the near future!

Looking Towards 2017

Despite underfunding, the passionate team here at REAP Systems is putting every spare hour we have into making our vision, and that of our supporters, a reality. Our next steps are to complete the Hybrid System Control Unit and battery assembly stage of the project. By January all the hardware will be in place as well as the software implementation.

Finally, the boat is now also wearing the REAPsystems colours ...

....and all of the current sponsor’s logos have been applied!

Thank you!

We are extremely thankful to all our supporters and hope that you appreciate this project update.

See us at Southampton Sustainability Week!

28.09.2016 (Covering period from 08.09.2016 to 25.09.2016)

The banner photo shows our preparations for another test run on 8th September. The ITV film crew also seemed curious about what we do...

Test run on 08.09.2016 to validate the data loggers and identify further improvements

  • Final checks before heading off to the Solent
  • Data logging is important to optimise a hybrid drivetrain. It helps us understand how the boat is used and the data are then used to determine the best hybrid configuration and settings. This day we will verify the data logging by comparing the logs with our notes.

Data are uploaded to our servers automatically where we process them into graphs like this (here: cell voltages of a li-ion battery)

  • A mixture of slow and fast runs. Fastest runs with up to 75% throttle as we are still running the engine in.
  • Quick reflection after the test run. There are still necessary improvements to the ACR dash switch (automatic connection relay between the two 12V batteries), gearbox - lever delay and trim-up operation.

  • Thanks to ITV for coming along. Challenging interview questions on board during test run indeed... The piece should be on air very soon – we will let you know!

  • Thank you Patrick Byrne from Scorpion RIBs for partcipating in the report.

  • Thanks to Keith again for supporting with the safety boat!

Development of REAPsystems' water cooled batteries for this hybrid system

  • Assembly of battery cell modules, which are based on REAPsystems' patented cell assembly technology. Here is one of the battery modules for the boat.

Information about technical specifications and characteristics of this type of battery is at

  • The 1.5m long battery box has arrived – all in REAPsystems green branded colour.

In The Press

A throwback to our initial test runs on 19.08.2016

  • TV report from That's Solent is now on Youtube in case you missed it! 
  • A very interesting read from Maritime Journal that reveals challenges we're overcoming to create this off-the-shelf hybrid solution

Update on sponsorship

We are welcoming TransDev as another bronze sponsor of ours. Limited spaces still available so don't miss out!

Southampton Sustainability Week

  • A sister of our hybrid Venice water taxi – She's Electric – has recently received a lot interest from environmental groups e.g. Sparsholt college, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, The Green Blue and Miniport Ships Limited who want to utilise it for conservation purposes as well as support its commercialisation. She's Electric is a fully electric power boat RIB also launched by REAP back in 2013. It has an electric 15kW outboard and 3kW charger with high-end battery management system and can perform 1 hour run time at full power and lowest noise in class.

We had a really nice afternoon offering boat rides for them to feel the experience.

  • Along with inspirational talks from our founder, Dr Dennis Doerffel, She's Electric and our hybrid Venice water taxi will be on show as part of Southampton Sustainability Week this October. 

    • EnvSoc Sustainable Lunch 12:00 – 16:00 01.10.2016: talk by Dr Dennis Doerffel about Renewable Energy from 14:45 – 15:05

    • Electric Boat Trips 08.10.2016, 09.10.2016 & 15.10.2016: get on the She's Electric for a unique electric boat trip and learn about our to-be-hybrid Venice water taxi. 

See more info at

* Due to lack of funding, we had to slow the project down and prioritise other customer projects so that we could earn the much needed funds to develop this X-generation hybrid propulsion. It means the deadline for showcasing this boat as a hybrid in Venice will slip towards spring – early summer next year. We will still keep testing and running the boat in the UK over the winter.

Another successful sea trial!

08.09.2016 (Covering period from 22.08.2016 to 07.09.2016)

Improvements after initial test runs on 19.08.2016

  • Scorpion helped us work out the centre of gravity of the boat and data that allow us to calculate where the batteries should be installed in order to keep a good weight distribution.

  • We installed the sea-water cooling circuit for the hybrid system. This was important in order to keep the gearbox in the outdrive cooled during diesel test runs even though the hybrid system is not installed yet.

  • ContiTech and Transdev helped us check the electric motor belt tension and alignment. They confirmed it was fine.


Important parts arriving

  • 23'' propeller has arrived (one day after our first test run). It has been mounted and was already used for our second test run.

  • Battery cells.
  • The steering wheel has now got our green branded label on it.

Test runs on Wednesday 31/08/2016 with the correct 23'' propeller

  • First time accelerating up to 30 knots at 75% throttle

  • Our first hour of engine operation

  • Thanks to Keith for offering help again with the rescue boat

Hybrid System Control Unit (HSCU) assembly

Our current plan is to have another test run to the Solent this Thursday for further improvements and to validate the data loggers. In parallel, we will transform battery cells into battery modules and then battery modules into a battery.

Our boat at Southampton Sustainability Week

A week of inspiring and interactive events to make Southampton more sustainable is happening from 8th - 16th October. We will be offering unique hybrid boat trips by inviting people to get onboard. More information and how to book tickets will be available soon.

Sponsorship updates

We proudly announce that Greenfield Insurance and St Cross Electronics have become our sponsors for the project. There are still places available at so why not promote your green ethos with our eco-friendly Venice water taxi?

It is on the water!

Special blog post covering our initial test run on 19.08.2016. As you can see in the photo we picked the day with the worst weather in the whole summer.

Final preparations the day before

  • Installation of fuel supply, return and fuel filter.

  • 180 litres of fuel - syphoned into the boat from empty to full. Calibrating the fuel gauge.

  • Fitting the sea water cooling outlet for hybrid system.

  • Testing fly-by-wire trim operation. 

  • Dashboard now completed with switches for horn, navigation lights, interior light, bilge pump, trailer override and some blanks for future upgrades.

Initial sea trials last Friday

  • The propeller was not delivered on time. However our supplier was very helpful and managed to organise an interim replacement just in time. The replacement propeller has a pitch of 24'' instead of 23''.

  • Another last-minute challenge: Fitting the quick release connection for the hybrid cooling system and routing the hoses in the tight space.

  • Launching the boat at Southampton Dry Stack. 

  • Checking: low voltage electrical system, engine, transmission and hybrid module.

  • First run on the water accompanied by a safety boat. Fortunately this wasn’t needed. 

  • Thank you to the press and our key supporters for coming along to the first unofficial test runs - despite the pouring rain.

  • The first test run was successful. We have identified some minor improvements:

    • The secondary bilge pump hose slightly leaking.

    • The secondary bilge water sensor is stuck in the “on” position.

    • Minor adjustments to the hybrid module required in order to achieve long term reliability.

    • We noticed a long delay before disengaging the gear from forward run to neutral, probably due to a problem with the fly-by-wire calibration.

We hope you enjoyed this update. In the meantime, we have received our correct 23'' propeller. In the next blog post we can report on further test runs, results from data logging installation and progress with the hybrid module.

Preparing for today's sea trials

19.08.2016 (Covering the period from 30.07.2016 to 18.08.2016)

For the last two weeks we have been busy preparing for the initial sea trials today.

The engine could not be directly mounted on the original stringers. That's why our partner - Scorpion RIBs offered to help strengthen and raise them. The image below shows the arrangement of the engine mounts and Scorpion's accurate measurement (in blue). The green numbers were our initial estimate from using modified Hyundai marking and alignment tools.

Scorpion removed all paint and gelcoat down to the fibreglass, inserted appropriate wooden blocks and metal on top and finally covered the fixed stringers with fibreglass and suitable coatings. After this they aligned and mounted the engine for us.

The photo below shows the raised engine beds with the engine mounted.

Since we got the boat back on the 4th of August, we have been working according to a very tight schedule to get ready for the sea trials today while making sure our other projects are not neglected.

When we connected the automatic bilge pump control panel, we realised that the wiring diagram that comes with the panel was incorrect and hence we had to extend and re-wire the bilge switch.

We conducted calculations to specify a suitable propeller. Fortunately we found a supplier who offered us a quick delivery. There was no guarantee that we could have it on time. We will let you know what happened in our next project blog.

Other than that, the preparation of the conventional boat system has almost been completed.

The stern-drive has been mounted and you can see where the propeller will go.


The exhaust piping has been connected.


The cooling system has been connected.

The 12V battery system has been connected to the engine. The photo below shows the starter battery (right) and the auxiliary battery (left) with cables connected to the high power switches.

We also connected the Ultra flex unit which controls the engine throttle, gearbox and trim using CANbus.


We completed the design of the Hybrid System Control Unit (HSCU). All parts have been ordered and received, now ready for assembly. When the HSCU is finished, the clutch will be connected to the HSCU so that it can be engaged when diesel operation is needed and disengaged when electric motor is needed. For now, we just temporarily wired up the clutch so that the diesel engine and the propeller can function properly for today's test runs.

We completed our data logger and installed it on the boat then started testing it. For now we can read the boat speed and engine data on CANbus data e.g. RPM, torque, pressure, temperature and battery voltage.

The electric motor has been mounted into the Hybrid Module.

The wiring for LED mood lighting system in the passenger cabin has been installed.

The purpose of today's diesel test runs is to test the conventional system and the Hybrid Module from a mechanical perspective. Then the assembly of the battery, the HSCU with control software, the Hybrid Power Box (HPB), the Hybrid Display Module (HDM), system integration, testing and improvement cycles will follow. Our aim is to have this done for us to attend the Southampton Boat Show in September.

On another note, our sponsorship programme is taking shape. The photos below show logos from some of the companies who have already become our sponsors. Information about our sponsor kit can be found at and there are still spaces left. So please let us know whether you are interested in sponsoring us or please pass this on to anyone who might be interested.


We hope you enjoyed this update. In the next edition we hope to report on our test runs today and how we are getting on with the hybrid module.

Preparing the boat and system installation


Over the last few weeks we've been busy with preparing the boat and system installation. We've tried to capture every step of the progress to share with you now. Hope you enjoy it and continue supporting us on our journey!

1 - Bench tests with electric motor

We tested the electric motor in the hybrid engine assembly and it spun correctly and as expected. In the photo below you can see the diesel engine with the hybrid module mounted in place. 

2 - Preparing the boat

The circuit diagram for wiring the boat has now been completed and approved by our Chief Technical Officer.

The exhaust pipe has been modified to suit the new engine set-up.

We routed the fuel feed and return lines through the boat and into the engine bay.

The steering system has been filled with hydraulic fluid and bled. This is now working correctly.

We moved the bilge pump into a slightly different position to make space for a suitable platform for the high voltage battery. In the photo you can see that this platform has been finished.

The entire electrical installation is installed using high quality tinned cables and we make sure all cables and connections are labelled to ease future modifications and maintenance.

3 - Originally, the plan was to get the boat fully prepared to receive the engine installation. However, when we tried dropping the engine into the boat in order to check the engine alignment, we found that the stringers were not sufficiently high to support the engine in the right position. To solve this problem, we've made our own tool to figure out how much we have to raise the stringers.

Our expert partner has then come along to assess the situation and suggested that with this type of boat we should strengthen and raise the stringers at the same time.

As this is something we can't do ourselves, our partner offered to collect the boat and deliver to their premises. Then they also independently checked the engine alignment using the engine instead of our tool to make their own measurements. Based on theirs and ours, we have now agreed on how much the stringers would have to be raised. The modification is currently being carried out and we expect the boat to be back at our place early next week. 

Our alignment tool

The boat is now with our expert partner.

4 - New project manager and new time plan

We appointed a new project manager who together with the engineers reviewed the time plan based on the available information. Following this assessment we have determined that a more realistic (but still challenging!) target date for start of the in-water trials using the diesel engine only is the 10th of August. The first hybrid trials are expected to start on the 19th of September. The boat launch in Southampton is scheduled to take place on the 30th of September.

Another task for this week is to work on the HSCU (Hybrid Module Control System) on both the hardware and the software sides. 

In the next blog post we hope to report that the boat is ready to be commissioned and launched for diesel testing.

Other highlights

We've recently got support from XP Power who donated a DC/DC converter part for the boat. Thank you XP Power!

We are offering unique Sponsorship Packages associated with the project. Please click here to see how your organisation can benefit.

Obstacles while assembling the hybrid module


We want to share not just the great achievements but also obstacles we come across in our efforts to bring sustainable innovation to the market. This week we had a few of those issues... Here’s a recap of what’s happened in the last few days.

(1) This week the hydraulic steering system installation has been completed. This is needed to provide controlled motive force to change the direction of the stern drive unit.

(2) We finished the installation of the low voltage control and power wiring that connects the engine compartment (fuel gauge, engine RPM, engine temperature, throttle, lights, fuse box, switches, auxiliary, starter battery, etc.) with the dashboard.

(3) We prepared the mounting space for the high voltage battery.

(4) We assembled the hybrid module, which includes the electric motor, pulleys, clutch and hybrid housing, and mounted it to the diesel engine. This is when we faced problems with some parts which were not delivered to specification (wrong internal diameter tolerances) so did not fit in the module. Fortunately our contacts at the University of Southampton helped us to mill out some material to fit the pulley onto the clutch. Another issue arose with the clutch plate of the flexible coupling: the mounting hole depths were inconsistent – again not to specification. This was causing obvious imbalances and we decided to modify it to the best of our abilities for now and demand replacement part from our supplier. The replacement part will be fitted after initial tests.


(5) Following this, we lowered the complete hybrid engine into the boat to check its compatibility and to take measurements.

We found that the stringers were not sufficiently high to support the engine in the right position. The engine could not be aligned with the shaft of the stern-drive. Again we thankfully had support from our wide network of partners: Scorpion RIBs production manager offered help resolving this issue.

Our objective for next week is to get the boat ready for initial test runs so that we can launch it the week after. Our intention is to prove the diesel drive system and boat systems first, then fit the hybrid controls and high voltage battery before testing the system as a whole.

We invite you to be the first to experience the technology by booking our test runs here.

Getting ready for hybrid engine installation


This week we’re finishing up to get ready for installing the hybrid engine next week.

(1) The electronic gear shift is needed for changing between forward, neutral and reverse propulsion modes. The hybrid controller will make automatic decisions about the gear selection and act via the electronic gear shift to allow smooth transition between forward, neutral and reverse as well as exceptional manoeuvrability. 

(2) The next picture shows the mechanical gear shift cable for forward, neutral and reverse that leads from the electronic gear shift to the stern drive. 

(3) This electronic module is for controlling the start, stop and speed of the diesel engine.

(4) 2 x 12V engine bay lights are fitted to make maintenance and repairs much easier.

(5) There are two battery isolation switches, one for each 12V battery (main starter battery and auxiliary battery).

(6) This is the 12V fuse box for bilge pumps and engine bay lights.

(7) The secondary diesel filter is fitted to prevent engine damage and improve combustion performance by removing impurities from incoming fuel.

(8) The automatic battery relay connects/disconnects the starter battery with the auxiliary battery as required.

(9) The secondary bilge pump float switch will activate the second (engine bay) bilge pump.

(10) This sea cock is installed to enable the cooling water supply to be isolated for maintenance or repairs.

(11) The controls for the search light have been fitted in the wheelhouse at the front of the boat.

(12) The deck lights will help people find their way when walking around the boat after dark.

Next week we are moving on to focus on a key innovative part of the project - assembling the hybrid propulsion module.

Other highlights of this week include press coverage by The Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) and The Challenges of Sustainable Innovation podcast by Wholegrain Digital. Also a CAN based Engine Display has been donated to our boat by CANtronik. Brilliant stuff!

Our crowdfunding has still been running on Indiegogo. We still need a lot of funding to complete this demonstrator and showcase its great benefits to the marine market.


Donate now


Instruments, controls and more


This week we managed to make good progress on the boat build. Yet another step closer to the boat launch!

(1) We marked out carefully the template and cut out the holes for the switch panel.

(2) Then we fitted in all the instruments and controls.

The control leaver that controls the forward, neutral and reverse, the engine throttle and also the engine trim angle.

(3) The hydraulic steering system comprises of the helm, the tacho that tells you the RPM of the engine, the fuel gauge, the temperature gauge for the engine, the trim gauge that tells you the angle of the stern drive, the voltage gauge of the battery.

(4) The engine management screen that shows the engine hours, service monitor and faults.

(5) The bilge pump switch and alarm system.

(6) The map reading light.

(7) The compass.

(8) The fuse box for the 12V battery system.

(9) The 12V USB socket.

(10) The ignition key for starting and stopping the engine.

This week Project Venice did receive more media attention from the BBC, University of Southampton News and - Energy & Green Tech.

On another note, the report by That's Solent about our project in April has recently featured in a BBC programme of the best of local TV. Wonderful news!

*** Our crowdfunding is still up and running on Indiegogo. We still need a lot of funding to complete this exciting work aiming to kick-start the green marine revolution! Please donate here.

Initial mounting work on the boat


Over the last few days we have been doing quite a lot of mounting work on the boat.

(1) We soon realised the transom prepared for mounting the sterndrive was too thick.

So we decided that we had to grind it to reduce the thickness locally so that the mounting plate would fit.

The boat before and after having the sterndrive mounted.









(2) We carried out a trial with the engine (without the hybrid module) being lifted into the engine compartment and onto the stringers in order to make sure the engine fits snugly on them.

Next step was to mark the footprint of the engine taking into account the auxiliary engine parts to be assembled later on. After feeling quite confident that they were all fine, we took the engine out again.

(3) The engine cooling system, which comprises of the cooling water inlet, sea cock and filter, was mounted.

(4) We mounted the engine compartment sound and heat insulation and then the steering cylinder, hydraulic pump & oil reservoir for the hydraulic trim unit. 

(5) One of the two bilge pumps with flow switch. 

(6) We fitted the additional air inlet for the engine.

(7) We mounted 2 x 12V battery boxes (one starter battery and auxiliary) on marine plywood vanished with marine epoxy resin.

(8) One of the two ozone friendly and non-powder automatic fire extinguisher.

(9) Pick-up for the 2nd bilge pump (however it's not in final position) and the 2 flow switches (one is magnetic and one is electronic) for the 2nd bilge pump. They will fit into the bilge pump control and alarm system.

(10) The 2nd high capacity bilge pump.

(11) We prepared space for the main traction battery with marine plywood.





(12) We mounted the steering wheel and other cockpit items.

(13) Last of all we mounted the boat horn.

(14) Some more parts for the hybrid module awaiting inspection and assembly. 

That’s mainly it for the week!

*Our crowdfunding has been up and running on Indiegogo. We still need a lot of funding to complete this exciting work & get the boat ready for demonstration in Venice this summer. Please consider donating at & helping us spread the word.



Hybrid module design now finalised


We have now finalised the hybrid module design for our hybrid diesel-electric engine.

It is very compact, light in weight, powerful and flexible to suit a range of different engines, configurations and types of propulsion system.

This hybrid module can work with the sterndrive, gearbox and shaft configuration.

Below shows how the hybrid module fits in the hybrid engine & sterndrive.

Hybrid engine to be installed into our original water taxi

Hybrid engine to be installed into our original water taxi

Hybrid engine to be installed into our original water taxi

Hybrid engine to be installed into our original water taxi

Testing of electric motor from our hybrid electric propulsion system


We are now testing the electric motor from our hybrid electric propulsion system. Guess what, this motor weighs 12kg only!

You might know that it requires 20kW to propel a typical Pilot Boat at 6 knots. So, how much power do you think this motor can produce? 40kW continuous and 80 kW peak!

In the video are the spinning electric motor, the inverter and the power supply for the inverter.

Special features of the chosen inverter include ability to run a very compact 10 poles motor at high speed and to deal with a wide range of voltage range produced by the electric motor. Therefore, the batteries can be charged at a wide range of speeds.

Our very first Project Open Day


Saturday 14th May 2016 was our very first Open Day when we invited the public to come and chat with us about Project Venice as well as what we are doing.

We were extremely happy to hear a lot of interesting questions being raised and answered such as why we choose to develop hybrid electric drive system but not purely electric one, why Venice but not UK is a perfect place to start, what the technical benefits as well as challenges of the solution are, what if we can't get enough funding through crowdfunding etc.

In the picture are our taxi boat awaiting system installation, a fully electric RIB introduced by us in 2013 and Dr Dennis Doerffel - our founder and CTO - sharing our story from the early days in 2003 and what motivates us to embark on Project Venice.

If you missed the chance to join this Open Day, there will definitely more to come or you can talk to us right now by messaging us on Facebook, tweet to us @reapsystems or emailing to We'd love to hear from you!

Major ordered components arriving at our premises


The Hyundai diesel engine (270 Hp, 3 liter V6 engine), sterndrive (Standard Mercruiser Bravo 3 model), inverter and control units has arrived at our premises.

The diesel engine that we selected is a prime example of the innovative and high-tech engines in marine industry. We strongly believe that by exploiting this diesel engine in our hybrid system package we can offer a very efficient propulsion system.

As for the Sterndrive, it is one of the most popular sterndrives in the market. It will soon to be mounted in the original Venice taxi boat. We use the Mercruiser Bravo 3 with dual propeller to minimise wandering and to optimise manoeuvrability.

Now, more work for our engineers and production people!

Thank LoToNo for your grant and your visit


Back to January 2016 at the very initial stage of Project Venice, REAPsystems gratefully received financial support from Fareham based LoToNo Team. LoToNo is a hub of innovation that helps businesses and entrepreneurs to access innovation, solve their waste challenges, improve their environmental standing and optimise their supply chain.

The LoToNo Innovation Voucher did enable REAPsystems to afford a good quality second-hand 'water taxi' from Venice and get it shipped to the UK awaiting design and installation of the hybrid drive.

“LoToNo support allowed us to bring this work forward and kick start the move from theory to practice, and we are really excited to be close to a working hybrid taxi-boat operating in the Venice Lagoon,” said Dr Dennis Doerffel, our CTO.

Read LoToNo Case Study about REAPsystems and Project Venice here.

The boat arriving at our Centre of Excellence in Southampton


The taxi boat has arrived at our Centre of Excellence in Southampton ready for drive system design and installation!