Japanese Diesel engine manufacturer Yanmar has signaled its intention to bring hydrogen fuel cells to the consumer marine market, collaborating with Toyota to develop the technology and prototype it in a small boat by the end of the year.
As part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two companies, Toyota will supply most of the powertrain from its Mirai production line, and Yanmar will build a prototype passenger boat to demonstrate and test the technology’s marine potential.
With Japan and South Korea tilting heavily toward hydrogen as the “clean” fuel of the future, it makes sense to investigate fuel cells for marine use, as well as in aircraft, where they appear to have a lot of potential. Hydrogen offers far greater energy density than lithium batteries, allowing manufacturers to develop long-range vehicles with no local emissions. Mind you, there are clean and dirty ways to produce it, and the clean ways are going to need to get a lot cheaper if they’re to be cost competitive.
This will not be the first time the Mirai powertrain sees action in a marine application. Earlier this year, the Energy Observer fitted a Mirai powertrain, alongside a solar hydrogen production unit, allowing this big clean-tech catamaran to generate its own hydrogen by using power from its vast collection of solar panels to split seawater.
While batteries still seem the best solution for clean cars, hydrogen may yet see its day in the sun in marine and aviation.
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