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  • Energy Observer's SF Visit



    The 100' Sailing Catamaran Energy Observer sailed into San Francisco Bay on Friday May 8th and quietly made it's way to Pier 9 on the San Francisco Embarcadero.





    The Maxi Cat has a lengthy history of voyages and records prior to becoming the worlds 1st sailing vessel with autonomous means of producing hydrogen on board and without emitting greenhouse gas emissions using renewable energies.

    Originally named Formule Tag, this maxi-catamaran was built by Canadair in Québec, Canada in 1983, under the supervision of Canadian skipper Mike Birch and British designer Nigel Irens. The yacht was built to compete in the inaugural Transat Québec-Saint-Malo—a trans-North Atlantic sailing race celebrating Jacques Cartier's 1534 voyage from Saint-Malo, France, to present day Québec City.

    It was the largest sailing catamaran of its time, with a length of 85 feet, and participated in a number of races. In 1984 Birch and crew sailed her to a new record for a Day's run, sailing 512 nautical miles in 24 hours.




    In 1993, Formule Tag was purchased by Robin Knox-Johnston and future two-time America's Cup winner Peter Blake. The two skippers renamed her ENZA New Zealand (ENZA an acronym for Eat New Zealand Apples). The two launched a 1993 attempt (thwarted by damage) on the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest sail circumnavigation of the world. They captured the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994, circling the globe in 74 days 22 hours 17 minutes and 22 seconds.

    By 1998, British skipper Tracy Edwards had bought the yacht and renamed her Royal & SunAlliance. Edwards and crew set a new record for an all-female crew sailing across the North Atlantic, at 9 days 11 hours 21 minutes and 55 seconds. Tracy and her crew broke a total of seven world records with the Royal & SunAlliance, including a Channel Record that stood for three years. During their attempt to win the Jules Verne Trophy, the Royal & SunAlliance was dismasted in the Southern Ocean.

    In 2000, Tony Bullimore purchased the yacht, renamed her Team Legato, and lengthened her to 100 feet. Team Legato participated in the 2000/2001 circumnavigation sailing competition The Race, finishing fifth of the seven teams entered.

    By 2005, Bullimore had renamed her Daedalus. While Daedalus finished second, of four yachts, in the 2005 Oryx Quest circumnavigation sailing competition, Bullimore set a record during the South Atlantic leg at 11 days 10 hours 22 minutes and 13 seconds.

    In 2006, Tony Bullimore renamed her again to Doha, and took her into another attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy – abandoning the attempt due to mechanical failure.

    By 2009, skipper Bullimore had renamed the yacht Spirit of Antigua.

    The catamaran was entirely renovated in 2000 for The Race. It received new stems, making the hulls 4.6 metres longer.

    Another renovation in 2017 converted the boat to a hydrogen-powered vessel, the Energy Observer.
    By 2012, she was degraded to near rubbish as indicated by this YACHTING WORLD ARTICLE

    The mission of Energy Observer is to blaze the trail, as it were onto a path of achievable self reliance using wind, solar and hydrogen power, and in the 5 years since it was launched, they are well on their way!

    Numerous trials have come and gone, including a failed attempt to use kite power, which required too many strings and gear to handle, plus the very real possibility of running over the kite and tangling the lines
    in the rigging and motors. A helix style wind generator was attempted as well, but became clearly evident that it was a zero sum game, with the drag caused by the rotors cancelling out any energy they produced. The 1st fuel cell was ground breaking, but only lasted 371 hours. Issues with the desalinization units, the electrolyser have lead to new and improved designs to date.






    The current wing foil system, two Oceanwings®, rotating, self-supporting and 100% automated, which will increase the vessel’s speed and produce hydrogen during navigation by electrolysis of sea water. A technology never before tested on such a large boat, and which could well revolutionize maritime transport. More Info

    You may ask why not a conventional rig? For many reasons, one being the shadow that the sails will cast on the solar panels on the deck, and also the need for space to store all the sails and the running
    rigging. Efficiency? The wings can propel the boat at 5 knots under normal conditions allowing the solar panels to work free of any load, charging the batteries and producing hydrogen, running the electronics
    making fresh water and other components!

    Angle of attack? 15 knot or less, 30-45 degrees, in 25 to 35 somewhere in the 20 to 25 degree range!



    Our guide for day, Dr Katia Nicolet explains the solar panel technology!

    The 202 square meters of solar panel cover every exterior surface and are the latest most durable made. The ones on surfaces one might tread are incased on a special vinyl covering that protects
    them from damage. There are others incased on a glass panel on the side trampolines ( No walking allowed) which allows both sides to collect solar gain, the bottom side from mostly refraction.




    Energy Observer controls all the functions via the:EMS:

    This is the brain of the vessel’s energy supply. Combining multiple intermittent renewable energy sources and storage is one thing. Optimising their use to propel the boat and ensure the crew’s comfort is another! This is where the Energy Management System (EMS) comes in. It is a set of automated machines which command and coordinate all the systems, and is driven by the human pilots using an on-board computer. Rockwell, American leader in industrial automation and partner in the Energy Observer project, contributed their experience and many software solutions.




    You can read more about the energy systems HERE

    Energy Observer departs for Hawaii on the 13th and will later visit Asia and continue its journeys from there....




    The 1st Step:The Water Maker

    As the name suggests, reverse osmosis is the opposite, going from salty water to fresh water. In this process, seawater is forced through a filtering membrane which removes the salt. However, high energy resources are required to maintain water pressure. The fresh water generated by the first level of desalination is used on board. Water from the other levels is used by the on-board hydrogen systems.







    Step 2: TheThe Electrolyser

    Currently, 95% of the world’s hydrogen supply is from fossil fuel, through a reforming process using methane, the main component of natural gas. Electrolysis using a renewable energy source is a solution for the future use of green hydrogen on a large scale.




    Step 3 : The Compressor The Compressor

    Hydrogen has a very high energy content: for the same weight, it contains up to three times more energy than diesel, and 2.5 times more than natural gas. That said, we know how to store natural gas in tanks or pipelines. Storing hydrogen is more difficult.





    Step 4: Hydrogen Storage Tanks

    Eight tanks with a capacity of 332 L store a total of 63 kg of hydrogen, which provides the same energy as 230L of fuel. The global net energy stored is 1 MWh.

    The engineers initially planned to place this bulky storage in the hulls of the catamaran, but they finally decided to distribute the tanks in external well decks on each wing.

    This ensures the tanks are in a watertight environment, protected from sea spray, prevents confinement, and facilitates handling for maintenance. It did, however, require complex calculations for the weight distribution and the tank support design.





    Step 5: Converting Hydrogen into electricity:Fuel Cell System

    Toyota develops and delivers specially designed Fuel Cell System to Energy Observer, the first hydrogen vessel to sail around the world .Toyota has been involved in the Energy Observer project from the start, because of hydrogen being at the very heart of this amazing journey. During a six-year odyssey, which started in 2017, the Energy Observer team is navigating the first energy-autonomous hydrogen boat around the globe. The electrically propelled vessel of the future operates by using a mix of renewable energies and a system that produces carbon-free hydrogen from seawater.


    Step 6: Battery Storage




    Battery storage
    The main set of batteries feed the electric motors via the 400-volt network. The capacity of 112 kWh is optimised: it’s only 2.5 times more than the type of battery used for an electric car like Renault’s Zoe!

    Another set of 18 kWh batteries powers the 24-volt low-voltage network and every-day facilities on board: electronic navigation, on-board computer, lighting, comfort, security, etc. Great care was taken to make sure the two networks do not interfere with each other. For example, the engineers had to add several power converters to an even supply of electricity from the different sources (photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, etc.). Lastly, all the wiring was simplified to reduce on-line power loss, and to reduce the size of energy storage and supply systems.





    Step 7: Propulsion

    The Energy Observer is propelled by two electric motors, each with 42 kW, providing a total of 115 horsepower. The motors, designed by Phase Automation, have very high output (97%), which also contributes to reducing the boat’s energy requirements, and ultimately the size of the storage and energy production systems aboard.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The Energy Observer Working Its Way To San Francisco! started by Photoboy View original post
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