Toyota, official partner of the first energy-autonomous hydrogen vessel Energy Observer, has announced it has developed a fuel cell system for maritime applications, with its first delivery destined for the electrically propelled vessel.
Operated using a mix of renewable energies and an onboard system that produces carbon-free hydrogen from seawater, Energy Observer is half-way through a six-year odyssey around the world to promote greener technologies and economic possibilities.
“We are very proud to embark the Toyota Fuel Cell System on our oceans passages, and test it in the roughest conditions,” said Victorien Erussard, founder and captain of Energy Observer. “After three years and nearly 20,000 nautical miles of development, the Energy Observer energy supply and storage system is now very reliable and we look forward to the next step of the project: to get a reliable and affordable system available for our maritime community. We believe that the Toyota Fuel Cell System is the perfect component for this.”
Toyota’s fuel cell system, which was first introduced in the Toyota Mirai hydrogen-fuel-cell electric vehicle, has proved its value as a propulsion system for automobiles. However, the company has more recently been exploring the use of its fuel-cell system in other applications such as buses and trucks.
Toyota and the Energy Observer have worked closely together on how a hydrogen fuel cell system could be adapted to maritime applications, which eventually led to the introduction of Toyota’s maritime fuel cell technology and system. The maritime-specific fuel cell system was developed by Toyota Technical Center Europe in seven months. It required a redesign of the system, followed by the build and installation of the compact fuel cell module. This was accomplished using components first introduced in the Toyota Mirai, which were fitted into a more compact module suitable for marine applications.
“Our European R&D team has worked hard with the team of the Energy Observer to create and install this module in the existing boat,” said Dr Johan van Zyl, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe. “This project shows that the Toyota Fuel Cell technology can be used in any environment and can be spread throughout many business opportunities. It is always inspiring to work with people who aim for the same goals and this project supports even more our vision for a hydrogen society.”