Air Liquide has embarked on a partnership with Energy Observer, the world’s first energy self-sufficient seagoing vessel powered by hydrogen (H2).

The experimental catamaran aims to make the first-ever trip around the world powered solely by H2 and renewable energies with zero greenhouse gas or fine particle emissions.

The Energy Observer, which was officially launched in Brittany, France, on 14th April, will travel around 50 countries on a six-year world tour. Its main challenge is to aim for self-reliance through energy coupling and the carbon-free production of H2.

The H2 used to power the catamaran will be produced via the electrolysis of seawater. It will be compressed, stored and converted into electricity via an on-board fuel cell.

Energy observer kadeg boucher ice banner

Source: Air Liquide/Energy Observer

The Energy Observer will demonstrate the feasibility of these technologies under extreme conditions so they can be rolled out on a larger scale, at sea and on land, for mobile and stationary purposes.

A statement from Air Liquide said the industrial gas giant’s support of the scientific and technological project will demonstrate the role of H2 in the energy transition and illustrate the group’s ambition to contribute to a more sustainable world.

Through Air Liquide’s global Blue Hydrogen programme, the company aims to gradually decarbonise its production of H2 dedicated to energy applications. Under this scheme, Air Liquide has made a commitment to produce at least 50% of the H2 necessary for these applications through carbon-free processes by 2020.

The company aims to do this by combining the use of renewable energies, water electrolysis and biogas reforming, as well as the use of technologies for the capture and upgrading of carbon emitted during the process of producing H2 from natural gas.