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Drift Energy “Flying” Yacht Is World's First Hydrofoil Sailboat to Produce Green Hydrogen
In the discussion about power generation, hydrogen fuel has long been regarded as a leading option for storing renewable energy and transitioning to a zero-emission future. Could hydrogen power the world in the future? How far away is that future? These are questions we are pondering more often lately, but we don’t yet have a definitive answer just yet. What we do know for certain is that the time of hydrogen-powered yachts is drawing ever closer thanks to a major breakthrough from British startup Drift Energy.

Drift Energy “Flying” Yacht Is World's First Hydrofoil Sailboat to Produce Green Hydrogen

Drift Energy's flying yacht produced green energy in sea trialsDrift Energy's flying yacht produced green energy in sea trialsDrift Energy's flying yacht produced green energy in sea trialsDrift Energy's flying yacht produced green energy in sea trialsDrift Energy's flying yacht produced green energy in sea trialsDrift Energy's flying yacht produced green energy in sea trialsDrift Energy's flying yacht produced green energy in sea trials
Drift Energy have become frontrunners in the race to produce and adopt green hydrogen, as they recently announced that their first purpose-built hydrofoil sailboat has successfully produced green hydrogen gas in sea trials.

The company’s innovative energy yacht, fittingly dubbed the “flying yacht” has managed the feat while flying over the water off the coast of Brightlingsea, Essex.

During the sea trials, which took place earlier this month, the vessel produced around six liters (1.5 gallons) of green hydrogen over a two-hour test run. According to the team, the results they obtained during the yacht’s maiden voyage exceeded their expectations and the energy yacht could have produced over ten times more green hydrogen than it did.

The ground-breaking craft involved in the trials is an 18-footer (5.5-meter) built by White Formula of Brightlingsea, a shipbuilder with Olympic gold medal winning heritage. Actually, even the yacht they used for the trials is a statement of the company’s commitment to sustainability and a greener future, as the “flying yacht” is a second-hand vessel originally called “Whisper.” The high-performance and stability of the Whisper provided the team with a great platform for development.

Capable of reaching 25 knots (46.3 kph) at full tilt, the yacht features an underwater propeller that spins at speed and drives a turbine to generate power. The electricity is then used to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Drift Energy claims its flying foiling boat is the first in the world to generate clean hydrogen using just the power of the wind while out at sea.

The secret behind this breakthrough in marine energy production is a clever routing algorithm that uses the power of data to find optimal weather conditions in which to guide the vessels while at sea. The routing algorithm was developed by AI firm Faculty and works by analyzing weather forecasts and sea conditions to continually optimize the course of the boats in real-time to ensure their highest possible utilization.

According to the Drift team’s calculations, a fleet of its ships sailing from New York to Penzance could achieve a load factor of more than 72 percent. To make an idea of what this means and how efficient the yachts are, know that verified load factors for wind turbines in the UK are 26.5 per cent for onshore wind farms and 39 per cent for offshore wind farms.

“This is a real breakthrough in the creation of a net new renewable energy class – which is both mobile, scalable and anti-fragile. We are thrilled to have produced the world’s first green hydrogen from a hydrofoil sailboat in the waters off Brightlingsea,” said Ben Medland, Founder and CEO of Drift Energy.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved. DRIFT was founded only one year ago and in the last three months we have sourced, retrofitted and successfully trialled the first hydrofoiling hydrogen production yacht.”

Now that the concept has proven successful, the UK-based startup intends to continue sea trials and increase the number of ships available to generate energy. It has plans to trial the technology on bigger water crafts, including a 130-foot (40-meter) yacht, which could prove capable of producing 250,000 liters (55,000 gallons) of the green gas per hour or more. The company's founder mentioned their energy yachts could serve to produce energy to refuel massive hydrogen-powered container ships out at sea, or to deliver hydrogen fuel to offshore tankers or ports.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

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