Hydrogen-powered vehicles are already appearing in large cities as a more efficient and sustainable form of mobility. The high cost of producing these fuel particles, however, still prevents the technology from becoming popular, especially in passenger cars. But what if we said that there is a boat that uses this fuel and produces it on its own, reusing sea water? This vessel exists and is called Energy Observer.
The boat is 100% energy self-sufficient, being able to sail without the need for external supply. For this, he uses a hydrogen fuel cell that was developed in partnership with Toyota, an automaker that already has cars with this type of propulsion.
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The Energy Observer mixes different cutting-edge technologies to generate enough energy to supply nine homes a day. During the day, 200 square meters of solar panels charge the boat's lithium-ion batteries. Any extra energy is stored as hydrogen, thanks to a special fuel cell called Rex H2 (short for Range Extender H2), manufactured by Toyota, which uses it in Mirai cars, also powered by hydrogen.
The fuel cell brings seawater, removes salt and then separates H from pure H2O with electricity. After the Oceanwings sails were installed, the boat was able to produce hydrogen while on the move, improving EO energy efficiency from 18% to 42%. Although it still uses lithium-ion batteries to assist in locomotion and powering the vessel, hydrogen can store more electricity than conventional batteries, and this could, in the medium term, change the large transport market – especially at sea .
Although names like Tesla CEO Elon Musk advocate the use of lithium-ion batteries, the path to greater energy efficiency can – and should – go through hydrogen. Here in Brazil, this type of fuel is used only in buses and small vans.