|Student-Built, Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Powered Boat to Set Sail on Hudson River|
Welcome to another episode of “If college students can do it, why can’t the rest of the world figure it out too?”
An enterprising and organized group of undergraduate and graduate students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have fitted an old sail boat with a spiffy set of hydrogen fuel cells and plan to run the boat from Manhattan to upstate New York later this month in a “green power” tour of sorts.
I love it when college students do this kind of stuff. Seriously. If I could have stayed in college forever, I would have. Believe me, I tried.
The group, founded by materials science graduate student William Gathright earlier this year, has taken a 40 year-old, 22 foot sailboat, fixed it up from its formerly decrepit state, fitted it with some compressed hydrogen gas storage tanks, and installed two off-the shelf GenDrive class 3 fuel cell units — each weighing 500 pounds. The fuel cells are on loan from local company, Plug Power.
“We’re high-tech environmentalists,” Said Gathright. “We want to share our vision of a time when people can take a pleasure cruise on their boat, or drive to the store, without leaving a trail of pollution and toxins behind them. We hope to inspire and challenge them to think of ways of making that vision a reality. This project, from beginning to end, has certainly been an exercise in creative problem solving. But you know what? We’re Rensselaer students. Innovating and problem solving is what we do best.”
In a nod to the history of the Hudson River as a source of American ingenuity and problem solving, the boat has been named the New Clermont after one of the world’s first commercial steam boats, Robert Fulton’s Clermont, which roughly followed the same route up the Hudson that the students will be taking on their green tour.
“Just as Robert Fulton wanted to prove to the world that steam was a viable, economical means to power boats and unleash the economic potential of our waterways, we want to open people’s eyes to the viability of hydrogen and fuel cells as a way to power boats, and one day maybe even our cars, trucks, and homes,” said student Leah Rollhaus, who also helps lead the New Clermont Project.
Source: GO Media - Written by Nick Chambers - Image Credit: The New Clermont Project’s Flickr