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Fuel cell boat glides on Ethernet

01 September, 2005

Fuel cell boat glides on Ethernet

A Swiss consortium has developed a fuel-cell-powered boat that could provide a clean, quiet alternative to craft powered by conventional engines. The 7m-long Hydroxy3000 catamaran is propelled by a 48V DC motor in each hull, powered by a 3kW PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell.

The 1.5-tonne vessel - developed by a group led by the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland, and supported by the Swiss federal energy department - can reach speeds of 12km/h. It has a backup battery supply, which can also augment the fuel cell to reach speeds of 18km/h.

The boat is controlled by two Beckhoff BC9000 bus terminal controllers, networked via an Ethernet connection. One controller monitors parameters such as the speed, course and position of the boat, while the second monitors and controls fuel cell parameters such as its temperature, and water and air supplies. The controller determines the optimum operating conditions for the fuel cell and supervises ancillaries such as air compressors and cooling water valves.

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