Toyota has invested in the construction of an experimental marine vessel with a hybrid propulsion system. It uses the energy of wind, sun and waves, and as a reserve - a supply of hydrogen, which is produced from sea water. It will be the first ship in the world, after the old sailing ships, that does not need fuel to move.
Strictly speaking, the Energy Observer was originally just a sailing ship. It was built in 1983 by naval engineer Nigel Ayrens to set records for the innovative ship. The first was the 500 mile race in 24 hours, followed by a series of upgrades and new achievements. Today it is a large and light catamaran, which, with a length of 30.5 m and a width of 12.8 m, has a symbolic displacement of 28 tons. It has been selected as an ideal platform for testing a new energy system.
The catamaran does not carry cargo, only instruments and supplies for the crew, it can skillfully maneuver, studying the effectiveness of using sails and solar panels in different rough seas. To generate hydrogen, a ground-based plant was adapted here, in which salt is evaporated from sea water, and then, using electrolysis, the water is separated into oxygen and hydrogen. The pressurized gas is stored in tanks from where it will be extracted as needed, also as part of a larger experiment.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the concept, to identify the pros and cons, a long 6-year voyage with a visit to 50 countries of the world is planned. It will begin next year and will be held under the direct patronage of Toyota Motor Europe. For the company, this is an investment of double benefits, in the prestige and development of new technologies, because hydrogen power plants are already actively used in Toyota trucks.