Electric sports boats coming soon!

Oct 21, 2011

Alex Smith '09, helped develop the world's first all electric power boat and now he's tackling an electric powertrain for an electric motorcycle.

Kettering grad Alex Smith, Mechanical Engineering ’09, could soon have a unique distinction.

An employee of Flux Power in San Diego, Smith helped develop the world’s first all electric sport boat, the Epic Boats 232se, and he’s also working on an electric powertrain that would help a group from a local speed shop attempt to break the world record for the fastest electric motorcycle.

Smith works on developing battery technologies for Flux Power as a Sr. Applications Engineer, and helps customers get their product to market - including Epic Boats.

“It’s a 200 kilowatt PMDC drive with a 60 kilowatt-hour LiFePO4 battery pack running at around 360 VDC (Volts of Direct Current),” Smith said. “I worked heavily on the BMS (Battery Management System), system integration and high voltage packaging. The noise coming off the drive was a challenge to contain; we literally were working with a floating ground.”

Smith’s knowledge has allowed him to work with a variety of vehicles, including hybrid boats, off-road vehicles, sports cars, conversion vehicles, buses, forklifts, semi-trucks and many more.

“It’s turning out to be a fun and exciting career,” Smith said. “Specializing in the battery systems and having the HEV knowledge allows me to work on multitudes of vehicles.”

Smith, who minored in Kettering’s fuel cell and hybrid vehicle program, cited his experience at Kettering as a big help in his career, particularly the hands-on nature of the curriculum here.

“My minor and co-op experience really helped,” he said. “I worked on hybrid busses during my co-op experience at Kettering and had a lab course where we tore apart a Ford Escape hybrid. It was fun to see how Ford engineers built their system.”

Smith believes that battery technology is getting really close to making HEVs an even more viable alternative to traditional vehicles.

“It seems like we are one generation away in battery chemistry from the tipping point against pure internal combustion vehicles in both cost and energy density,” Smith said. “The power electronics are already there.”

Contact: Patrick Hayes