Energy and Natural Resources

Self-fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe

16 July 2017

The self-fueling Energy Observer has started a six-year, round-the-world journey that its designers hope serves as a model for emissions-free energy networks. Image credit: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, FileThe self-fueling Energy Observer has started a six-year, round-the-world journey that its designers hope serves as a model for emissions-free energy networks. Image credit: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, FileA six-year, round-the-world journey is now underway for the Energy Observer. The former race boat has been retrofitted as a self-fueling vessel and is equipped with hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels and wind turbines.

The 100-foot-long vessel relies on solar and wind energy during the day. At night, it harnesses a reservoir of hydrogen that the boat itself produces through electrolysis of seawater. The 5 million-euro ($5.25 million) boat left Paris on July 15 on an itinerary that includes 50 countries and 101 stopovers.

The crew plans to visit capital cities that are already engaged in energy transition programs, islands that are completely energetically autonomous, threatened ecosystems and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

You can follow the progress of the Energy Observer here.



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Discussion – 10 comments

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Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#1
2017-Jul-17 8:26 AM

Not exactly confidence instilling.

I guestimate about 12 or 13 kW worth of solar panels....but assume 15 kW just for fun.

Those vertical axis wind turbines aren't very efficient for their size and aren't very big to begin with....these will probably produce far more resistance to forward movement that offsetting power anytime going up wind.

The hydrogen by electrolysis has to be power from something....must be the solar panels.

Okay, so assume that all the solar power goes to propulsion either directly or via lossless batteries or lossless electrolysis and use of H2. Assume the equivalent of 8 hours of direct overhead clear sky sun every 24 hour period.

With those generous assumptions that allows an average of 5 kW or under 7 hp for propulsion of this sizeable boat. Just 7 hp.

Better stay away from gust winds and open water.

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#2
In reply to #1
2017-Jul-17 9:03 AM

Assume double and 15 HP... That's rip roarin' in a canoe.

With a six year schedule they might be floating around with the prevailing winds and currents more than actual circumnavigation?

..now i need to look into it.. Thanks!

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#3
In reply to #1
2017-Jul-24 9:55 AM

Might be better of with water turbines...Kinda silly.

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#4
2017-Jul-24 1:26 PM

I expect the 2 Vertical axis wind turbines will slip plenty enough wind to not be much of a drag detriment when cruising against the wind compared to the wind drag of the boats topsides.

Even though the turbines are fairly small they can produce significant power with higher wind speeds and will probably be working constantly with anything over 4 knots of wind.

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#6
In reply to #4
2017-Jul-24 2:29 PM

The drag of the turbines relative to the drag of the remainder of what is topside is unimportant. The drag of the turbines relative to the power produced is critically important on headings other than downwind.

.

Vertical axis wind turbines are notoriously poor performers relative to size. Additionally the blades are moving upwind half the time.

I doubt even very large vawt of the best design would be that much help. In fact I'm not sure any watercraft powered solely by VAWT and a propeller could make reliable headway straight upwind.

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#5
2017-Jul-24 1:44 PM

OK just for fun lets triple and say 15kW usable.

Maybe 15tonne fully provisioned and crewed.
Crosswinds according to the attached map between 11 and 14kts
It becomes patently obvious - the misprint in the article...6 years to get to Le Harve

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#7
2017-Jul-24 3:34 PM

The boat also features two vertical wind turbines that will produce around 3 kW of power, which is 1/10th of the power needed for the two electrical motors. Each turbine is 2 meters high and has been developed specifically for this boat.

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#8
In reply to #7
2017-Jul-24 5:23 PM

Knowing something has been developed specifically for a certain application says nothing about whether it was a good idea, well designed, nor well executed.

Your tone suggests you might have some special insight into this project. If so, perhaps you can explain what we must be misunderstanding and why this is not a woefully underpowered vessel.

.

Let's consider the VAWT first.

You say 2m tall and makes them about 1m across. So 2m2 area to the wind. Tell you what let's assume 1.5m across for a 3m2 area.

VAWT efficiency is about 10% for the better designs at optimum conditions. Let's say the ones on the boat are alien technology and are 25% more efficient that common human designs...so totalling 12.5% efficient.

Raw wind power is pretty close to 0.0006 x (velocity as m/s)3 = kilowatts per square meter. Multiply by efficiency to get power.

So, how fast does the wind have to be blowing to get 3 kW from this unbelievably perfect turbine?

3 kW from 3 m2 at 12.5% efficiency means the raw wind should contain 8 kW per m2

That corresponds to over a 40 knot wind.

If you think that 4 hp each will noticeably help control a boat t u is size in a 40 knot wind you are mistaken.

Were these turbines really installed with the idea that 40+knot wind would be typical everyday conditions?

This thing was meant to have the look of 'alternative energy, and I bet the VAWTs look pretty when turning. Just don't risk you life or anyone else's life with illplaced trust.

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#9
2017-Jul-25 12:09 AM

Ok it got the better of me I had to search...and
Its got a kite...you know kite sailing

Oh and air-conditioning and de-salination and 97% efficient electric motors and 2 x 4,322lt H tanks that store at 350 bar and "Two Storey H2O Compressors" (Can only presume it lost something in the translation - H2OCompressors being a company and Two Storey means two stage) to take the hydrogen from 30 bar to 350bar and this would require about 30kW and...
Got it...
They are gunna put the masts back in and use wind energy to ift the kevlar sails

Re: Self-Fueling Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe
#10
2017-Jul-25 12:15 AM

BTW I hope someone some day really does do it - circumnavigate the globe with only renewables.
You know like them blokes (and a sheila for equality) Magellan, and Drake, and Cook, and Chichester and Jessica Watson - to name a few

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