Toyota develops first energy-autonomous hydrogen vessel

Toyota has developed a fuel cell system for maritime applications, with its first delivery set for Energy Observer

20200203_04_kv_w1920.jpgEnergy Observer is a former racing catamaran, that has been navigating its six-year odyssey around the world as the first energy-autonomous hydrogen vessel. It is an electrically propelled vessel that is operated using a mix of renewable energies and an on-board system that produces carbon-free hydrogen from seawater.     

Previously, Toyota's fuel cell system, which was first introduced in the Toyota Mirai, the world's first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, proved its value as a propulsion system for automobiles. However, the company has more recently been exploring the use of its fuel cell system in other applications such as buses and trucks.

The maritime-specific fuel cell system was developed by Toyota Technical Center Europe in seven months. It required a re-design of the system, followed by the build and installation of the compact fuel cell module.

Toyota says the project successfully demonstrates the adaptability of the Toyota fuel cell technology to a variety of applications, including those outside of land-based vehicles. "This project shows that the Toyota Fuel Cell technology can be used in any environment and can be spread throughout many business opportunities," says Dr Johan van Zyl, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe.

The operators of the Energy Observer are on a mission to go and meet people in 50 countries and 101 ports during their voyage, which began in 2017, aim to prove that a cleaner world is not only possible, but that the innovations can open some doors to a new economic expansion. "We are very proud to embark the Toyota Fuel Cell System on our oceans passages, and test it in the roughest conditions," says Victorien Erussard, founder and captain of Energy Observer.

"After three years and nearly 20,000 nautical miles of development, the Energy Observer energy supply and storage system is now very reliable and we look forward to the next step of the project; getting a reliable and affordable system available for our maritime community. We believe that the Toyota Fuel Cell System is the perfect component for this, industrially produced, efficient and safe."

Toyota says the Fuel Cell System has proven its benefits already for many years in the Mirai, but more recently also in other applications such as buses and trucks. Using it for maritime transportation is again another step closer to the development of the hydrogen society, which can be considered for a multitude of applications. The system is currently undergoing its final full power testing prior to the Energy Observer officially setting sail from Saint- Malo Port.

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