13 Luglio 2018
Venice, July 13 - A boat running on sun, wind and hydrogen power is proof that 'green' technologies already available can be put to use for sea travel now and not in some distant future. The Energy Observer catamaran will be in Venice from July 5 to July 15 as part of a world tour slated to end in 2022. The 30.5 x 12.8-meter hull scavenged from a 1970s sailboat is moored at Isola della Certosa, a part of the lagoon known for its natural environment and recreational activities. The 11-member crew and technical sponsors have set up a village with an educational path that illustrates the project, the idea for which came while at sea. "I was traveling in the Atlantic years ago on my boat," said captain and creator, Victorien Erussard, "and I had a power outage near Brazil. I had a diesel generator that did not work and was completely lost, but there was energy all around me: there was the wind and the sun. I thought it would be interesting to try to develop a floating 'smart grid'. This was the origin of the Energy Observer project." With the help of technical sponsors, including Prysmian for high-tech cables from the aerospace industry, the boat-cum-laboratory has an electric motor powered by 141 square meters of photovoltaic cells and a wind turbine system. This system was combined with a hydrogen storage system that makes use of seawater that is pumped, desalinated, then reconstituted and returned to the sea. The battery use is thus reduced, making the hull considerably lighter, using technology that is readily available. Since it weighed anchor from the French port of Saint-Malo in June 2017, the Energy Observer has covered more than 7,600 miles along major sea trade routes and will end its "Odyssey for the Future" in 2022, when it will land in New York at the United Nations. "Most stakeholders in the mobility sector," said the team's research manager, Louis Noel Vivies, "are moving towards hydrogen. We all believe that hydrogen is the most natural evolution after coal and gasoline and it will allow us to go forward without losing out in terms of performance and comfort and enable us to achieve zero carbon dioxide goals. We are bringing our marine culture together with the research and development of hydrogen industry leaders to develop a simple, reliable and economical system with many possible applications". For Marcelo Andrade, head of research and development at Prysmian Group, "the first goal is to develop technology derived from the aerospace field and adapted to a boat where there is no CO2 generation while reducing weight as much as possible." "For the other important point," he added, "Prysmian will continue to develop more sustainable products. Here we have an immense opportunity to show how technology can be applied to create a 'green' boat."
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