The world’s first self-sufficient sea vessel, Energy Observer, is due to leave her home port of Saint-Malo in Brittany, France, over the next few days on the first leg of a global voyage to test and promote renewable energy technologies.
This isn’t just any yacht though, it uses nothing but renewable energy sources to run. Specifically, it produces hydrogen from seawater with zero CO2 emissions and zero fine particles.
This vessel actually started out its life as the Formula TAG, the maxi-multihull which was designed by Nigel Irens. Its most notable achievement was to be the first sailing boat to break 500 miles in 24 hours in 1984. Since then though, she has been heavily modified to harness green electricity from solar and hydroelectric sources.
Namely though electrolytically splitting water molecules to release the hydrogen, which is fed then into a fuel cell to produce energy in an electrochemical reaction to power the vessel’s electric motors and onboard services. Essentially, turning water into hydrogen to power the yacht, all without producing any chemicals, gases, or particles that would be harmful to the environment.
Since her launch in 2017, Energy Observer has already covered 18,000 nautical miles, including a visit to the Arctic. Now, the vessel is set to go on an even larger voyage spanning the whole globe. The 4-year expedition will include three ocean crossings amounting to a total distance of over 20,000 nautical miles. The first stage will take the multihull to Toyko for the upcoming Olympic Games, then on to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, aiming to test the 30.5-meter catamaran’s green energy systems not just in extreme conditions but also over very long distances. This is likely to be one of the biggest tests of green transport the world has ever seen.
Hydrogen is slowly becoming one of the most common fuel sources alongside more traditional fuel such as petrol and diesel. Vehicles such as the Energy Observer are likely to be used more and more in the near future as more pressure is put on travel companies to offer green solutions.
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