Hydrogenisis is currently developing ‘Blue Box’ technology, with the aim of creating an energy generating system that will permit PI trimarans to become entirely self-sustainable and emission-free. The energy for the vessel will be delivered via a hydrogen production generator that removes hydrogen from acidified seawater.
Unfortunately, regardless of patent protection, the information available on the technology is currently a little thin. “The extraction uses a filtration process - the actual materials of the filtration system I cannot divulge to you currently, but they will be made available at a later date”, explained O’Hara. His secrecy, at least in part, is due to the relative infancy of the project and the fear of patent infringements.
Much of the carbon dioxide (CO2) created by industry has been absorbed by our oceans and for marine life the result has been, and will continue to be, serious. When C02 enters the ocean it reacts with water (H2O) to create carbonic acid (H2CO3).
The mass addition of H2CO3 to the sea has seen its pH level change by around 0.1pH units, representing a 25 per cent increase in its acidity over the past 200 years, shattering a balance that took hundreds of millions of years to establish.
It is the Hydrogen found in H2CO3 that will be removed by Blue Box technology using a technique known as molecular dissociation - a chemical or biochemical process that separates (or splits) molecules into smaller constituent molecules or atoms. Hydrogenisis hopes to separate these Hydrogen molecules to produce the electrical energy to power PI superyachts, cleaning the oceans as well as producing clean energy.
Current hydrogen technology, as a PI representative explained, ‘requires trained specialists, catalysts, electrolysis, hydrocarbon feedstock, permanent production location, production of waste materials, large energy inputs, and does very little to benefit the environment.’ Negotiating all these hurdles and bringing a product to market is surely then, an uphill battle worthy of Sisyphus – and our attention.
O’Hara continued, “We have proved the concept on a laboratory bench [and] we are now looking at and developing the reliability of the system. With anything you invent you have various problems; we’ve looked at how thick we need the filtration system to be, what we need to bring this to the market place. That is what we are working on at the moment.”
O’Hara accepts that errors may occur at this early stage. “There can be breakdowns, and initial work may need to go back to the drawing board to improve the design, but we are totally confident that we can produce the prototypes and get this into production within the next two years.”
As well as using the generator to provide a superyacht's energy when underway, the system will also utilise batteries to store energy for use when at anchor. “If we go into a marina we will not be relying on the electricity that they generate, which comes from carbon fuelled grid energy. We are trying to prove that a vessel can, and will be completely zero-emission and carbon-free,” he concluded.
SuperyachtNews.com will continue to follow the progress of Hydrogenisis with optimistic interest.