Rensselaer Students Mirroring Robert Fulton's Historic Steamboat TripRobert Fulton was the engineer who is credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat. As a demonstration that his invention worked and to prove the viability of steamships, he sailed his "Fulton's Monster" from New York to Albany almost 200 years ago. The New Clermont Project has a similar aim, but instead of the steam engine, its goal is to show the viability of hydrogen fuel cells (and it's also a very cool DIY project for engineering students!).
"Fulton's Monster". North River Steamboat aka Clermont as she appeared in 1807 in her original form.
Very Cool Student-Led Project
The students wrote: "We're a group of Rensselaer students, and next week we're sailing a boat powered by hydrogen fuel cells from New York City to Troy, N.Y. [...] We've engineered, tinkered, and homebrewed solutions to make the New Clermont voyage happen. We're borrowing two fuel cell units from local technology firm Plug Power. The fuel cell units are designed to power forklifts, so it took some creative problem solving to fit them in a 22-foot boat and modify the boat motors to accept power from the fuel cells."
The New Clermont is set to launch from Pier 84 in Manhattan on Monday, Sept. 21 and end its voyage by sailing into Troy Night Out on the evening of Friday Sept 25.
Here's a video of the students talking about their project:
I wish them the best of luck, and hope that their trip will both be successful in demonstrating the potential of hydrogen fuel cells to others, but also in inspiring these students to pursue careers in fields that will help us solve our numerous energy and transportation problems. The future will need lots of green engineers.
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