The world’s first autonomous ship powered by renewable energy has begun its trip around the world.
The autonomous ship known as Energy Observer is powered primarily by hydrogen and is currently on a six-year world tour sponsored by Japan-based car manufacturer Toyota. Aside from hydrogen, the ship also uses solar, wind, and wave as sources of power.
While the ship’s base technology has been in use on land transportation for a few years now, this is the first time that it has been utilized at sea to create instant hydrogen power during navigation and stopovers.
According to Energy Observer’s captain and developer Victorien Erussard, his team’s mission is to draw energy from nature without damaging or wasting it. Through their project, they hope to share their vision with people worldwide.
“At sea, onboard Energy Observer, we need as much sun as wind, batteries or hydrogen. The situation is similar on land. Energies and storage systems complement one another, and we have to learn how to make them work together: there isn’t a unique solution to climate change, but rather plenty of possibilities,” Erussard was quoted as saying.
The autonomous ship reportedly works by removing the salt and ions from seawater. The boat, afterward, uses electrolysis to break down the purified water into its base elements: hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then compressed at 350-700 bar and stored in tanks to be used as fuel by the Energy Observer when needed.
As an alternative, the ship is also equipped with solar panels and wind turbines to gather energy from the sun and wind.
During his six-year voyage, Erussard, which is also a professional racer, will be accompanied by exploration leader, deep-sea diver, and filmmaker, Jérôme Delafosse. The two will be documenting their journey which will be centered on the reliability of renewable energy sources. Their content will then be aired on the French TV network Planète+ as an eight-episode series.
“Energy Observer is a conversion that has a double meaning: to recycle a reliable and lightweight catamaran which is an around the world record holder and to invest in research and development, instead of in composites,” Erussard went on to say.