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Cruising on a hydrogen-powered boat

If you're an official in charge of the Frisian Nuon Solar Challenge -- the world's biggest solar powered boat race -- which will take place between June 26 and July 1 in the Netherlands, you'll do the five-day trip on the first Dutch fuel cell boat. This hydrogen-powered boat will cover the 220 kilometers of the race without refueling.
Written by Roland Piquepaille, Inactive

If you're an official in charge of the Frisian Nuon Solar Challenge -- the world's biggest solar powered boat race -- which will take place between June 26 and July 1 in the Netherlands, you'll do the five-day trip on the first Dutch fuel cell boat. This electrically powered boat will use hydrogen as fuel and will cover the 220 kilometers of the race without refueling. This very cost-effective ship could soon be produced in large numbers and should help to contribute to a reduction of air pollution from the marine transport sector within two years. Read more...

Here is the introduction of an article from Edie.net, "Hydrogen boat to cut marine pollution."

A prototype of the Dutch-designed boat is set to hit the waves this summer, with a commercial model expected on the market in less than two years' time if EU funding comes through, project leader Robert Van den Hoed told edie.
The boat is powered by hydrogen fuel cells, seen as a great hope for clean energy as they emit only water vapour when burning hydrogen to produce electricity.

This ship, named Xperiance, has been built by Ecofys, a Dutch company specialized in renewable energy solutions, and boat-builder Ganita Shipyard with money provided by various Dutch national and regional authorities.

Below is a picture from an electric boat already built by Ganita Shipyard (Credit: Ganita).

An electric boat from Ganita Shipyard

But will such a ship will really be cost-effective? The fuel cell system that powers the vessel is about 40,000 euros, but "should go down to 10,000 euros when the boat is produced on a larger scale," which should happen in about two years. And in fact, "the hydrogen used to run the boat will cost no more than diesel thanks to tax breaks."

And how a hydrogen-powered boat could help reduce pollution?

Although hydrogen fuel cells produce no emissions, they are not a carbon neutral energy source. Obtaining the hydrogen itself requires energy, not necessarily of the renewable kind, although that is the long-term goal. Hydrogen used to power the new Dutch H-boat is made using natural gas, giving net carbon emissions about 30-50% below those of conventional boats.

Van den Hoed adds this kind of boat offers other advantages. "A fuel cell boat can be recharged within 15 minutes by switching the hydrogen cylinders, rather than the 4-6 hours recharging needed for traditional electric boats," he said.

Now we have to wait until the end of the Frisian Nuon Solar Challenge to see if the inaugural trip of the Xperiance is a success.

Sources: Goska Romanowicz, Edie.net, May 24, 2006; and various web sites

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