Utilizing Ultrasonic Level Sensors in the World's First Hydrogen Racing Boat

Imagine the challenge – designing, testing and building the first-ever flying hydrogen-powered racing boat, and all in a year. This task was successfully tackled by the Delft University of Technology’s Solar Boat Team, who, after a challenging year, are putting the results of their hard work to the test in Rotterdam port.

Hydrogen, and green hydrogen, in particular, is increasingly garnering attention and being adopted as a key future resource. Power derived from hydrogen does not cause any emissions and leaves just one single residual product – water.

Utilizing Ultrasonic Level Sensors in the World

Image Credit: Senix Corporation

The team of 20 students chose to prioritize the Hydro Motion project over their studies for a full year. With a passion for inspiring a greener future for the maritime industry, the students assembled a significant group of partners who share that same vision, of which Senix is one.

In a previous life, TU Delft's Solar Boat Team, as the name implies, made solar boats. The team stepped away from solar after 15 years and began their transition to hydrogen. Hydrogen is key to the growing global industry, as research on electrical energy storage mediums like hydrogen is essential when looking to power commercial vessels.

Utilizing Ultrasonic Level Sensors in the World

Image Credit: Senix Corporation

The TU Delft Team designed the "Hydro Motion" vessel with a hydrogen fuel cell, fuel tank and three hydrofoils, which operate by lifting the one-ton trimaran over a foot out of the water. An on-board tank stores the vessel’s hydrogen gas fuel under high pressure.

The fuel cell combines this hydrogen with oxygen from the air to generate electricity. It is this electricity that powers the motor. Three pilots operate the boat, which reaches speeds of up to 22 knots.

Utilizing Ultrasonic Level Sensors in the World

Image Credit: Senix Corporation

Senix ToughSonic 14 Ultrasonic Level & Distance Sensors were selected by the TU Delft Team to monitor and control the height and lift of the boat above the water’s surface. The three hydrofoils on the boat are fitted to the bottom of the hull, similarly to an America's Cup yacht.

The boat, once it has reached a speed of approximately 12 knots, is able to generate sufficient lift to raise the hull around 15 inches above the water’s surface.  This lift reduces hull resistance significantly and lowers the energy requirements for propulsion.

The team, during testing, discovered that their Senix ToughSonic 14 sensors were able to offer the flexibility, accuracy and speed needed to control these essential functions.

Created with 316 stainless steel housing, potted-in cable and electronics and IP68 rated to withstand the extreme conditions of flying over salt and fresh water at high speeds, ToughSonic sensors are extremely tough and thus ideally suited for conditions at sea.

Utilizing Ultrasonic Level Sensors in the World

Image Credit: Senix Corporation

We succeeded; we can say that with certainty. The entire boat has come out of the water. We are proud to announce with the team that we have made the world's first foiling hydrogen boat!

Rick van Wilsem, Project's Chief Engineer

What is Next

2021/2022 is set to see the TU Delft team back bigger and better than ever, boasting a 23-member team for the next run. The basic hull design will be used from their previous solar-powered boat to design the hydrogen power boat: the hull was larger and flatter to accommodate solar panels.

The next flying hydrogen boat design will be brand new and more streamlined”. Indeed, the next-generation flying hydrogen boat is predicted to handle better than the first and be even faster when flying out of the water.

Mannes van de Winkel, Chief Commercial Officer, TY Delft Team

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Senix Corporation.

For more information on this source, please visit Senix Corporation.

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