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Focus-Science and Technology - - CONTENTS - EDITED BY HE­LEN GLENNY

Toy­ota Mo­tor Europe is spon­sor­ing the En­ergy Ob­server, the first hy­dro­gen-pow­ered ship, on a sixyear voy­age around the world. It’s the first au­ton­o­mous hy­dro­gen ves­sel that emits no green­house gases or fine par­ti­cles, pow­ered by a com­bi­na­tion of re­new­able en­er­gies and a sys­tem that pro­duces car­bon-free hy­dro­gen from sea­wa­ter.

The ship’s pri­mary sources of power are its 130 square me­tres of so­lar pan­els and two wind tur­bines. It cre­ates hy­dro­gen by re­mov­ing salt and ions from sea­wa­ter, be­fore sep­a­rat­ing out the oxy­gen and hy­dro­gen through elec­trol­y­sis. The hy­dro­gen is then stored in tanks to be used when needed, pro­vid­ing a buf­fer against the in­ter­mit­tent sup­ply of so­lar and wind at sea. Hy­dro­gen is a light and ef­fi­cient fuel, so it can be eas­ily stored on­board.

The En­ergy Ob­server is 30.5 me­tres long and has a po­ten­tial top speed of 42 knots, al­though it usu­ally cruises be­tween 8 and 10 knots. It was launched in Saint Malo in April 2017, and over the next six years it will call in at 101 ports in 50 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games.

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