For the past two weeks, the Race for Water has benefited from its share of cabling, various checks and work on its hydrogen generator. From a revamp of the storage systems to the painting of the hulls, everything has been carefully considered with a view to increasing the boat’s self-sufficiency in terms of energy independence! Inevitably, this is crucial to the success and safety of the future Pacific crossing from February 2018…
Following an Atlantic crossing, navigation between the hurricanes and 6 stopovers, it was high time to focus on improving and reviewing Race for Water! On-board with the Race for Water technicians right now: the teams from Swiss Hydrogen and Barrilec, a company working on electrotechnology on warships in Lorient. “On-board, they’re busying themselves with the electronics connections and the handling of the hydrogen system. These two companies comprise highly efficient people with a huge amount of advanced skills”, comments Jean-Marc Normant, chief operations officer. Thus far, the hydrogen system has always been in its test phase, without being connected to the vessel due to a lack of certification. “In this way, the connecting up of the systems will enable us to test them in situ so as to testify to their performance”, explains Jean-Marc Normant. The next stage? Simulations of the electrolysers are planned for the end of this week.
H Y D R O G E N
Thanks to the hydrogen generator, the sailing teams will use the surplus from the solar electric production to purify sea water (H2O) before electrolysing it in order to separate the oxygen from the hydrogen. The latter will then be stored under pressure in bottles in order to be converted into electricity, on request, using a fuel cell. This electricity will then supply the same motors as the solar panels. “This work involves an impressive amount of high technology! A sort of travelling crane has been installed over the vessel and enables the teams to easily open and access the hydrogen battery,” says the chief operations officer. In December, the boat will be moved to a floating dock in order to be lifted out onto the hard so the antifouling on her hulls can be repainted.
When sailing in tropical waters, barnacles and algae very quickly attach themselves to the hull. The resulting drag can be considerable for a vessel, increasing its energy consumption by 20% to reach the same speed. “Upkeep of the hulls is a not insignificant stage in increasing self-sufficiency in terms of energy!” says Jean-Marc Normant. It’s a programme that is progressing without incident, as evidenced by this comment from the chief operations officer by way of a conclusion: “So far, so good!”