Stebercraft Pty Ltd (trading as Steber International) is a manufacturer of custom-made vessels for defence, government, commercial and recreational uses. A partnership with Ampcontrol and the University of Newcastle has seen them anchor down new hybrid diesel-electric power systems to replace their current diesel only topology.
To access opportunities for growth in tighter market conditions, Steber International sought to focus research and development to target defence, government and recreational sectors.
Steber International's idea was to develop a hybrid diesel-electric boat prototype to evaluate its commercial viability. A whisper-quiet electric mode is desirable for many applications where operations require some stealth, such as marine park boats, police boats, inspection boats and security vessels. A hybrid electric boat also has appeal to recreational and leisure applications to decrease the carbon emissions, sound and fume emissions associated with diesel vessels.
With advice and support from CSIRO facilitator Dave Fleming, Steber International partnered with Ampcontrol and the University of Newcastle to undertake research and development to investigate a hybrid power system.
Following two years of development, a 22ft test rig equipped with a ‘marine microgrid’ hybrid power system was successfully launched in December 2020. The prototype vessel was tested on the water using its quiet electric capacity, then easily switched to the diesel generator, which provides additional power when needed to increase the operating range.
The success of this first prototype provided Steber International and Ampcontrol with the confidence to continue to invest in the technology, and to continue their partnership. They were awarded the 'Collaboration Partnership’ prize at the 2021 Hunter Manufacturing Awards.
In April 2023, Steber International and Ampcontrol will be launching a 43ft Beta prototype vessel utilising their hybrid power system technology. This vessel will enable potential customers from defence, government and private sectors to evaluate the boat’s performance and experience the notable technological advantages.
This project showcases the incredible work that is enabled through university, industry and government partnerships.
"The project has the potential to boost jobs in regional NSW and we encourage all levels of government to support the next phases of ongoing R&D, marketing and commercialisation."
— Alan Steber, General Manager, Steber International.
“[The project] had a profound impact on our business. Marine technology was previously outside of Ampcontrol’s areas of focus, however through [SME Connect] we have been able to de-risk our R&D activities in this area and work in partnership with Stebercraft and the University of Newcastle to pave the way in developing commercially viable hybrid diesel-electric power systems for marine vessels.”
— Steve Mitchell, Engineering Manager, Ampcontrol.