Talented skipper Arthur Le Vaillant will be competing in the Route du Rhum race starting in Saint-Malo on November 4th 2018.
Supported by experts from Leyton, the skipper’s global partner, they have worked together on the design of the Class40 sailboat, so that he can minimize the carbon footprint on his Atlantic crossing.
This article discusses the potential integration of a fuel cell in Arthur’s boat, to supply electricity during the crossing.
This paper is the first in a series of articles from our engineers about the environmental design credentials of Class40 Leyton; and will be an opportunity for you to learn more about the energy issues of sustainable development.
A fuel cell to replace a diesel engine?
Once Arthur’s boat is under sail much of the on-board navigation and lighting equipment requires electricity.
The fuel cell is a solution that complements the solar panels. It connects to the batteries and turns on automatically when the voltage drops (below 12V) and stops when the batteries are full.
What type of fuel cell?
Leyton engineers studied various types of fuel cell technology (methanol, hydrogen, etc.). After considering choice was focused on the methanol fuel cell was chosen (Direct Methanol Fuel Cell). Methanol also has the advantage of being stored in liquid form at room temperature.
The electricity is produced by the oxidation of methanol on one electrode (anode) and the reduction of oxygen on the other electrode (cathode). The chemical reaction produces water vapor and very little CO2 (unlike the diesel engine).
This type of fuel cell has many advantages:
- Arthur will not have to worry about how the fuel cell works. It is constant and automatic. It will just need the methanol cartridge changed every 4/5 days.
- Maintenance is almost non-existent. Just provide a container to collect water and an air intake for cooling.
- The installation is simple because of its small size and its weight (7/8 kg).
- Finally, the fuel cell is very quiet (about 30 dB).
… and only a few disadvantages:
- The battery can be sensitive to the list of the boat but this remains relatively rare and if the temperature exceeds 45 degrees for the fuel cell pauses.
Our boat will be launched in July. Keep in touch to learn more!