Stebercraft Pty Ltd (trading as Steber International) is a manufacturer of custom-made water vessels for commercial, recreational and composite uses. A partnership with Ampcontrol and the University of Newcastle has seen them anchor down new hybrid diesel/electric technology for water vessels.
A Business Evaluation (now called Growth Roadmap) service conducted in 2016 with a facilitator from the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme helped Steber International understand opportunities for growth and improvement in tighter market conditions. This evaluation led to focussing efforts on defence, government and recreational sectors, and to direct research into those markets.
Steber International's idea was to develop a hybrid diesel/electric boat prototype to evaluate the commercial viability for a range of commercial boating applications. With advice and support from an Innovation Connections Facilitator Steber International accessed two Innovation Connections grants to support the collaboration with Ampcontrol and the University of Newcastle.
In development for two years, the 22ft test rig was successfully launched in Taree, NSW in December 2020. The electric/diesel hybrid was tested on the water using quiet electric capacity, then easily switching to the diesel generator to provide power when needed to increase the operating range. The whisper quiet electric mode is desirable for many applications such as marine park boats, police boats, inspection boats and security vessels when operations require some stealth.
The hybrid boat will also be appealing to recreational and leisure applications to decrease carbon emissions, sound and fume emissions commonly associated with diesel water vessels.
This project showcases the incredible work that is enabled by university, industry and government partnerships.
Stebercraft will now work with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to establish additional protocols required for commercial vessel registration and use.
"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, Steber International General Manager.