“For this new Odyssey we are sailing a clean renewable energy vessel powered by a mix of Solar, Hydrogen, and Kite.” Marco Simeoni, president of the Foundation says. “It is essential to demonstrate that sailing with clean energy is possible and that energy transition is a reality.”
The Sources of Energy on Board
Race for Water has 500m² of Sunpower solar panels, totalling 38,000 photovoltaic cells. Located on the upper deck of the catamaran and on the two detachable wings, this energy source can supply 93 kWh and power the engine at an average speed of around 5 knots.
Race for Water and Swiss Hydrogen SA have integrated on board a unit for producing hydrogen from seawater. It contains: 25 cylinders of hydrogen at 350 bar to allow storage of approximately 200kg of hydrogen, which will be converted into more than 2,600 kWh of electricity, i.e. 4 times the electrical storage contained in the batteries (745 kWh). The hydrogen makes it possible to be self-sufficient for six days at a speed of 5 knots.
Skysails have developed a new-generation traction kite with a surface area of 40m², which extends to a height of 150m, the equivalent of 500m² of sail on the sea or 200 kW of propulsion. It is an innovative and efficient invention, managed automatically, that will double the speed of the vessel under certain conditions and greatly enhance self-sufficiency.
A Vessel for a Cleaner Future
The energy mix Producing energy from solar panels is a proven technology. However, there are still shortcomings to batteries. The current models are not able to store energy over several weeks without some wastage. Moreover, they are bulky and heavy, with a lifespan limited to about 5 years.
The hydrogen, equipped with its fuel cell, enables efficient storage of electrical energy. While sailing, solar energy is used on the one hand to recharge the batteries to power the boat at night and on the other hand to directly power the engines of the ship and provide power for life on board during the day. When the boat is not sailing, surplus solar energy is used to produce hydrogen. When the wind allows it, the kite pulls the ship, which in turn relieves the solar, thus allowing it to be used to create hydrogen with the surplus electrical energy. The hydrogen can then be converted into electricity through the fuel cell system that will power the engines or recharge the batteries.
We have chosen to develop solutions based solely on existing technologies in collaboration with commercial companies. Our solutions are therefore exploitable by those who, like us, wish to advance energy transition.
“I am pleased to be able to back another Swiss project that symbolises energy transition in a tangible way. The propulsion of the Race for Water vessel, based on the mix of solar, hydrogen and traction kite, will leave its mark in the history of our clean future. This solution, proposed by Race for Water, is at the cutting edge of innovation, but remains accessible to all because they have chosen to base it on commercially available technologies.”
Bertrand Piccard, founder of the Solar Impulse project
Hydrogen Production and Fuel Cells
Seawater is pumped, desalinated and stored on board.
This fresh water is then purified before being electrolyzed thanks to the surplus photovoltaic energy available.
The electrolyzers produce hydrogen at 50 bar, which is then dried, compressed at 350 bar, and then stored in specially dedicated cylinders. Nearly 200kg of hydrogen can be stored in this way.
The hydrogen will be reconverted to electricity through the two 30 kW fuel cells, as required. These fuel cells maintain the charge level of the batteries or directly power the electric engine (propellers).
“As a specialist in hydrogen technologies, Swiss Hydrogen is proud to be putting its know-how and experience at the service of ocean conservation. Beyond supplying our technology, we are passionately committed to the cause being championed by Race for Water. Our hydrogen solution designed for the Race for Water vessel aims to demonstrate to the maritime community that clean-energy propulsion is now a viable alternative. Hydrogen technology is now mature, reliable and sustainable, both on land and at sea.”
Alexandre Closset, president of Swiss Hydrogen SA
Ideally Suited for Scientific Research
The Race for Water was completely redesigned in 2016 to provide optimal working conditions for scientists on board. Thanks to its 90m² dedicated to research, its stability and its energy self-sufficiency, this vessel enables teams of five to seven researchers, as well as students to travel on board.
The Features of the Race for Water
1- Silent propulsion, convenient for the observation of marine fauna.
2- Low-speed travel, suitable for taking samples and measurements.
3- Absence of contamination by fuel or noise emissions when sampling.
4- Two points of direct access to the sea from the boat’s aft deck: provide easy access for sampling.
5- More than 90m² of flexible workspace. Optional wet laboratory and winch for offshore sampling and processing in close proximity.
6- Independent air-conditioned dry laboratory on board, equipped with a fridge, freezer and potentially an oven.
7- Large common working space with various fully-equipped workstations.
8- Stairs with a platform for 2 divers.
Virtual Visit of the Race for Water
A 4.5m rib, with 40cv engine
Three sets of diving equipment (suits + tanks)
Navigation systems & software
Station BATOS-Météo France
High-resolution GPS localisation
Seawater temperature measuring equipment