Energy Observer vessel traveling on the sea. Text on the image says Energy Observer in Washington DC March 14th-20th

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is pleased to welcome the Energy Observer to a stopover visit in Washington D.C. as it nears the end of a seven-year expedition around the world to champion the cause of sustainable energy. The world’s first laboratory vessel powered by renewable electricity and fuel cells using clean hydrogen produced from seawater, Energy Observer will remain docked through March 20 at The Wharf Marina in Washington D.C.

DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) led the development of some of the hydrogen and fuel cell innovations in use on the Energy Observer. These systems enabled the vessel to store some of the power it generates from the wind to produce clean hydrogen generated by feeding seawater to an onboard electrolyzer. These innovations, funded in part by HFTO, include advances in electrolyzer technology and use of carbon fiber storage tanks. Nel Hydrogen provided the electrolyzer used onboard and Luxfer provided the hydrogen storage tanks. Nel Hydrogen acquired Proton Energy Systems which, over nearly two decades, made significant progress in electrolyzer technologies with support of HFTO funding.

HFTO Director Dr. Sunita Satyapal will join members of the Hydrogen Interagency Task Force and other HFTO staff for an onboard visit to the Energy Observer to examine the hydrogen fuel cells in operation and exchange ideas with the ship’s crew on performance, durability, and integration of clean hydrogen technology for seafaring vessels.

“Clean hydrogen produced from seawater can enable sea travel around the world,” Satyapal noted. “For nearly seven years, Energy Observer has been an inspiring ambassador of fuel cells powered by clean hydrogen from renewable energy at its many destinations and ports of call. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to visit with the vessel’s crew in person and learn more about how hydrogen fuel cells have supported this innovative craft on its great journey.”

Following its stay in Washington D.C., Energy Observer will depart for New York, followed by stopovers in Boston and Saint Pierre et Miquelon before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to its home port of St Malo, France. Energy Observer will then make a final journey to Paris, site of its christening in 2017, to coincide with the opening ceremonies of the 2024 Summer Olympics.