Hydrogen from Water = Energy StorageThere's a supposedly "hydrogen-powered" luxury boat that has been making the rounds lately, popping up on many websites. After looking at the claims made by the manufacturer, I can't help but feel that something doesn't add up. And I don't mean a small, inconsequential detail. Either this boat breaks the laws of physics, or it works but not in the way that is claimed, or it doesn't work at all. So what's the problem?
Why This Boat Would Guzzle More Gas Than a Regular Boat
First, let's look at what this MIG 675 (sounds like a Soviet fighter plane) boat claims to do:
Aluminum boat with high strength and an incomparable légeretée, adding this a revolutionary standalone engine 500 HP, hydrogen-powered with a direct supply of seawater driven by a high strength industrial controller command Touch to control all its equipment. [...]
No release of CO2 and particulate matter only of water vapor exiting the exhaust.
Mercruiser Motorization with adaptation kits 100% hydrogen, no pressure tank, no fire risk, live production during navigation.
Using seawater as fuel, [no] more laborious passage to the pump and exorbitant.
An extraordinary sailing pleasure thanks to its hull designed for the seas formed.
The generator supplying electricity on demand to produce electricity for all ships without batteries by day and night.
Ok, so they claim that this boat is powered by hydrogen, but that you don't have to fill up a hydrogen tank before leaving the shore because it produces hydrogen "live during navigation" straight from seawater.
Where to begin...
First, it must be noted that here on Earth, hydrogen is not a source of energy, but rather a way to store energy produced by something else. That's because we don't have access to pure hydrogen. All the hydrogen that we can find is tied to other atoms (like oxygen, making H2O, or water), and it takes energy to split them apart and get pure hydrogen. If we could drill somewhere and have a gusher of pure hydrogen coming out, we could use it straight in fuel cells or in special internal combustion engines, and that would be a source of energy. But as things are, we always need energy to split hydrogen from other things, and that always uses more energy than we can then get out from the resulting hydrogen, making it only storage .
In the Case of the MIG 675So if the boat really takes seawater and splits it to extract the hydrogen, it can't do that using rainbows and unicorn dust, it needs a source of energy. Onboard a boat, that would most likely be a diesel generator. The problem is that with each step, you lose energy because nothing is 100% efficient.
So if the diesel generator has a thermal efficiency of, say, 40%, we are already wasting 60% of the energy contained in the fuel. Then the electrolysis process to split water and extract the hydrogen is going to waste some more energy because it won't be 100% efficient. And then, however they use that hydrogen to power the boat (they don't make it clear if they use a fuel cell or if they burn it in an ICE), they're going to have more losses. Not having more details on the hardware that they claim they use, I can't be more precise than that, but I can guarantee you that unless this boat breaks the laws of physics, that it guzzles more fuel than if it was only powered directly by a gas or diesel engine. Yet they claim no CO2 or PM emissions, so what's the source of energy used to split water? Maybe unicorn dust...
In short: Water is not an energy source. They need another source to extract hydrogen, and it would require less fuel to use that source directly to power the boat rather than to extract hydrogen and then power the boat with that hydrogen.
Suspiciously Silent VideoHere's a video of the hydrogen boat supposedly in action, but conveniently, there's no sound. I suspect that's because we could clearly hear a gas engine roaring...
If you want to see something that is hydrogen-powered but legit, check out: NH2: New Holland Unveils a 'Farm Ready' Hydrogen Fuel Cell Tractor