ELCO outboard at the university



Elco donated an electric outboard to the Catholic University of Leuven. Students in the programme Energy Technology specialize In the field of E-mobility, energy transition and electric drives. An EP-5 could be investigated during project work, allowing the student to gain practical experience. 2 years ago at the Metstrade 2019 in Amsterdam, the Elco-team met Energy Technologists Bram and Thijs. Here the outboard was handed over. During their traineeship last year at Elco’s European partner, P&E Lowlands BV, the electric outboard formed the study object for their final project. Although the 2020 study trajectory was dominated by COVID19 and its restrictions, both students could work untroubled with the motor. Their teamwork has been rewarded with great distinction. Bram and Thijs would like to thank Elco for this gift with a brief summary of their story.

Our school, the Catholic University of Leuven, forms the largest University of the Low Countries with more than 58.000 students enrolled. The Odisee technology campus in Ghent focuses on applied sciences in general. As a ‘co-university’, abundant interaction with the professional work field forms a major aspect during all study programs. So the pleasure of having an international manufacturer like Elco approaching us was really valuable.

Story traineeship.docx

This appreciation was expressed by the university’s professor in the field of drives and power inverters, prof. Van Maerhem:  “ In the Energy Technology BSc program, the hands-on approach to teaching requires an offer of new, real life challenges every year. We are grateful to ELCO for giving our students the opportunity to develop their skills and understanding on a novel application of electrical drive system design. “


Molen varen


During the traineeship at P&E Lowlands our goal was to obtain a comprehensive system overview of the outboard and then to investigate how the industrial fieldbus protocol CANopen is applied in a frequency converter for mobile applications. Without going into detail, we managed to program an embedded system for analysing and logging the CANbus and monitoring of some major motor parameters like velocity and torque on a basic LCD-display. The CANopen functionality of the drive system applied in the Elco, was therefore interacting with our controller on the same fieldbus. That all worked out well. Amazing how power electronics and digital controls work together in ingenious systems like these drives.


The global pandemic didn't make work easier. The Elco travelled a lot between home office and the PELL workspace because of the periods of obliged teleworking. In that respect, we are relieved that no EP-50 was donated… Thanks to Elco’s generosity we were able to work with state-of the-art technology and eventually graduate with felicitations of the Belgian secretary of Energy during a huge video conference. Now the real work begins, but these are skills that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Odisee camp

Many thanks!

Bram and Thijs

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