Energy Observer: deep sea catamaran with fuel cell

With fuel cells on the high seas
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I The Catamaran Energy Observer is currently located in the Port of Hamburg. The Hanseatic city is the 36th stop of the ship, whose mission is to be completely self-sufficient and only use regenerative energy. The 30.5 meter long and 12.80 meter wide catamaran was launched for the first time in 2017.

The surface of the ship is covered with solar panels on 168 square meters. They generate electricity that is needed on board for the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen. A direct use of the electricity generated by photovoltaics would be subject to strong fluctuations in bad weather phases, which is why the weight-saving storage option in the form of hydrogen was chosen.

62 kilograms of hydrogen on board

Uli Sonntag
Not a spaceship, but a look at Katamaran Energy Observer.

With The crew of the Energy Observer takes seawater from a 500 liter tank. After it has been desalinated and demineralized twice, an electrolyser takes over the task of breaking down the water into its components hydrogen and oxygen. While the oxygen escapes, three tanks on board store up to 62 kilograms of hydrogen.

The research vessel is constantly being improved over time. This spring, new sails were installed for the first time, with the help of which the power of the wind can now also be used to generate electricity while driving. The propeller continues to run passively while the catamaran is sailing. Your kinetic energy generates electricity. This means that energy for the production of hydrogen can now also be generated while driving in long periods of bad weather, in which little or no electricity is generated from sunlight.

When visiting the location, the generosity of the space for the Energy crew falls Observers on. Wouldn't the catamaran be gentlerocking in the waves of the pool in Hamburg's HafenCity, you could almost imagine yourself on board a spaceship.

Two large monitors form the central control element in the middle of the room. Information on electricity generation by the photovoltaic system and the electrolysis of the water is displayed here, and all components of the ship can be monitored. Outside the cabin is the steering wheel, behind which digital displays also facilitate navigation.

The basis of the Energy Observer is a catamaran built in 1983 in Canada, which is over six meters longer for its second life and features the latest technology was equipped. The ship is to be underway with a changing crew around Captain Victorien Erussard by 2022 in order to gain further knowledge about the generation and use of regenerative energy on the high seas.

Crossing to Tokyo

For the year 2020 is the first crossing to Asia. Together with the sponsor Toyota, who also wants to promote their own fuel cell technology with the Energy Observer, the catamaran is expected in the Japanese capital Tokyo in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

There, the car manufacturer Toyota, the As part of its “Environment Challenge 2050” by this year, all products that plants and their own logistics want to make completely CO2-neutral will be using a fleet of hydrogen buses for passenger transport. The second generation of the Mirai fuel cell car will be presented before then. The new model will again be a touring sedan.

New fuel cell for 2020

The new drive model has become more compact.

In three years, almost 20,000 nautical miles (approx. 37,000 kilometers) covered. A further developed fuel cell system will be used in the Energy Observer for the next stage. At the end of 2019, the drive supplied by Toyota was tested in the shipyard. After final tests, the Energy Observer will set sail again in mid-February.

The fuel cell drive should now be more compact and at the same time more powerful. In addition, Toyota claims to have the reliability of theModules improved.


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