Pushing The Boundaries In Sustainable Boating

Bowman coolers helped a hydrogen-powered vessel dominate the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge in the summer of 2022.

In July 2022, a hydrogen fuel cell powered boat, created by TU Delft University, took 2nd place overall in the World Championship Open Sea Class of the annual Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, after annihilating the competition in an open water endurance race.

Known as the TU Delft Hydro Motion Team, the boat was designed and constructed over the previous 12 months by 25 students from the university in Delft, Netherlands, which is ranked amongst the top ten engineering and technology universities in the world.

Their objective was simple – to inspire the marine industry, by showing what is possible using hydrogen as a zero emission fuel source.

Whilst battery electric power is now a well proven energy solution for leisure and some commercial marine applications, range, battery weight, plus the availability of charging points and turnaround times can limit a boat’s usability.

Whilst this may not be a problem for coastal leisure craft or ferries, it’s clearly not a perfect solution for larger leisure boats and commercial vessels.

From the outset, Hydro Motion designed the boat specially for hydrogen power. Its mono hull design enabling 16 kg of hydrogen to be stored in a gaseous state at 350 bar, in two 2.3 meters long by 50 cm diameter fuel tanks.

From there, hydrogen is transferred to a fuel cell, where it is mixed with oxygen, generating electricity to power the boat – the only by-product being water.

Cooling the system and keeping it within optimum temperature range are three Bowman marine specification heat exchangers. Supplied through Bowman’s Dutch distributor KVT, these proved to be efficient and reliable throughout the programme.

The hull design incorporated three hydrofoil ‘wings’, which lift the boat out of the water at speeds of 25 km/h and above. This design reduces drag, enables higher speeds to be achieved and is more energy-efficient.

The World Championship Open Sea Class is designed for green energy powered boats. Teams race in open sea conditions and the event comprises three specific challenges; Manoeuvrability, Speed and Endurance.

In the manoeuvrability challenge, Hydro Motion came 2nd with an excellent performance over the technically challenging course.

Unfortunately, during the speed challenge, problems with a motor controller forced them to retire.

However, in the endurance challenge, which involved 6 hours of continuous sailing without recharging or refuelling, Hydro Motion stunned the competition, covering 17 laps of the course (the equivalent of 95 km or 51 nautical miles), finishing 7 laps ahead of their nearest competitor, to win the race, whilst having used just 8 kg of hydrogen.

Monaco Boat ChallengeThe win lifted them to 2nd overall in the competition, but perhaps their greatest achievement was to demonstrate how hydrogen could be the future in sustainable boating.

Commenting on the performance, Tony Carter, Sales Manager of E J Bowman said, ‘’We are again delighted to be associated with TU Delft. The university has a long history of success in the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, but this year marked a significant change for them, with the switch from solar power to hydrogen. Bowman heat exchangers are now well-established in the battery/electric marine propulsion market, so we were very pleased to see how well they performed in Hydro Motion’s hydrogen fuel cell competition boat. We look forward to working with them again as they continue to push the boundaries in sustainable boating.’’

For more information on Hydro Motion Team, go to www.hydromotionteam.nl and for Bowman heat exchangers www.ej-bowman.com.