Toyota Develops Fuel-cell System for 'Self-sustainable Ship'

2020/02/13 19:24
Sousuke Kudou, technical writer
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Energy Observer (source: Energy Observer Productions - Antoine Drancey)
The fuel-cell system (source: Toyota)

Toyota Motor Corp and Toyota Motor Europe (TME) announced Feb 3, 2020, that they have developed a fuel-cell system for a fuel-cell ship.

The ship, "Energy Observer," was developed in France and is aimed at sailing around the world by using renewable energy. TME is affiliated with Toyota and oversees Toyota's business in Europe.

Energy Observer is the world's first "self-sustainable fuel-cell ship" that uses hydrogen produced by using renewable energy (e.g. solar and wind power) and seawater. To make the ship, Victorien Erussard (French yacht racer) and Jerome Delafosse (explorer and documentary filmmaker) remodeled a racing boat.

The ship departed from her home port, Saint-Malo Port, in the northern part of France in June 2017 and is scheduled to sail around the world in six years while stopping at 101 ports (50 countries). Thus far, she has stopped at 48 ports (25 countries) and traveled about 18,000 nautical miles. She is 31.0m in length and 13.0m in width. Her weight is 34t. She can carry up to eight people in the case of an ocean voyage.

This time, TME Technical Center used the components of Toyota's "Mirai" fuel-cell vehicle, redesigned a fuel-cell system for ships, made parts, developed a new fuel-cell system and mounted it on the ship in seven months. The output of the system is 114kW (the output used by Energy Observer is planned to be 40kW). Compared with the existing system of Energy Observer, it realizes a higher output, higher efficiency and higher reliability, according to Toyota.