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America's Cup: Hydrogen powered foiling chase boat outstrips outboard power

by Emirates Team New Zealand 11 May 07:17 BST
Emirates Team New Zealand's Hydrogen powered foiling chase boat undergoes sea trials on the Hauraki Gulf - May 2022 © Emirates Team New Zealand

Emirates Team New Zealand have been continuing the successful commissioning and testing of their hydrogen powered foiling chase boat 'Chase Zero' on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf since its launch just five weeks ago.

The team have now run Chase Zero for 36 hours of motoring so far and over 1042km (562.6 nautical miles) have been covered on the water, with the only emissions of its operations being pure water.

Chase Zero Operations Coordinator Nick Burridge, who has been overseeing the on water operations program, has been quietly impressed with Chase Zero's performance.

"Our hydrogen powered chase boat is cutting edge technology, so like we do with our race yachts we have been cautiously stepping it through the commissioning process. But in saying that, we have progressed through it quite nicely and really ticked off some key milestones, some of which have really exceeded our expectations."

The top speed of Chase Zero to date has been clocked at 50.3 knots (93.16km/h) on its 9th day of testing, which has always been the expectation of the design of the foiling boat.

Along with the speed testing, the range of Chase Zero with full tanks had to be tested and verified. It proved to be a long day for Skipper Chris 'Curly' Salthouse. "We filled the tanks up to 96% so we wanted to take Chase Zero out to test its cruising range and reliability at the same time. So we set out to circumnavigate a few islands around the Hauraki Gulf, we just didn't expect to be cruising for as long as we did.We ended up motoring for nearly 6 hours in the end and covered 280km (or 151.2 nautical miles) at an average speed of 28.3 knots and still had about 10% gas left in the tanks."

To put that into perspective if Emirates Team New Zealand had done the same day's run in a regular 11m chase boat with twin 250hp outboards on it, they would have used 140 litres of Petrol an hour @ 28knots, which would have equated to 825 litres total. Unfortunately a regular 11m chase boat only has an 800 litre Tank so it wouldn't have even made it back or matched Chase Zero's range without running out of gas.

The range test provided the engineers with valuable data that has been crunched and now the team can accurately assume that the range of Chase Zero on four full 8.4kg tanks of hydrogen gas is 330km's (or 178.19 nautical miles) at the cruising speed of 28-30 knots of boat speed.

"As a team we are very proud of Chase Zero and we know we are leading the way forward to a cleaner emission free future of powerboating in the marine industry." said Emirates Team New Zealand Sustainability Ambassador, and supporter of the hydrogen project, Sir Stephen Tindall "The team have done an amazing job accelerating this technology forward in a very short timeframe, and exceeding even their own high expectations, so there is an exciting and cleaner future ahead which includes several other potential NZ Hydrogen Marine projects under consideration so NZ might continue to lead the pack."

Partners are a critical component in the advancement of Chase Zero, the hydrogen technology and infrastructure around it in the marine industry. Partners like Toyota who provided the pre-production hydrogen fuel cells units in Chase Zero and have been pioneers of fuel cell technology for 20 years.

Hiringa who are supplying green hydrogen, developing hydrogen fuel infrastructure and facilitating market use of hydrogen have been a critical part of the Chase Zero project and the fuelling infrastructure.

Global Bus designed and installed the hydrogen fuel cell power train alongside the Emirates Team New Zealand mechatronic engineers and Gurit worked with the Emirates Team New Zealand design team to structurally design Chase Zero fit for purpose.

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