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Happy sailing with fuel cells


The Maltese Falcon

Ken Freivokh co-designed the largest, privately owned sailing yacht, the Maltese Falcon. He has designed some of the world’s best-known yachts from his converted barn near where I live in Hampshire. A few miles away in Basingstoke, Voller Energy Group is one of the world's first commercial developers and manufacturers of portable fuel cell systems for use as battery chargers and mobile generators. Voller has developed a ‘low cost fuel processor technology’ which extracts the hydrogen found in LPG, Calor Gas or Propane to create electricity.

These two innovators are combining their talents by building a yacht powered by a fuel cell instead of the highly polluting and noisy diesel generator. Yachts, of course, are driven largely by wind power, but use a motor when there is no wind for propulsion. In addition a generator is required for all the electricity needed on a boat.

Environmentally fuel cells should be friendlier since their only waste product is water. They are being used for hospitals and school buses as I write.

19th century British inventor William Grove invented the forerunner of the fuel cell 150 years ago. It’s an interesting story, briefly described here (scroll down).

Perhaps there is no “holy grail” for non-oil dependent energy, but a versatile set of inventions adding up to energy independence.