British start-up, Drift Energy, has recently test driven their water splitting yacht with success. The catamaran is a world’s first in green energy generation to produce hydrogen from splitting water molecules.

The sailboat is made from carbon fibre to make it lightweight, and its wing-like hydrofoils are a useful component as they lift the boat out of the water to reduce drag and increase efficiency.

In order for the splitting of water to occur the boat needs to be moving. Using wind power, the boat can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour or 25 knots. The movement of the boat causes the propeller underneath to spin, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. This electricity splits the water to separate its hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The hydrogen is then stored and transported to where it is burnt to produce energy.

Within their two-hour test run, Drift Energy had filled a six-litre storage tank full of green hydrogen. As the only by-product is oxygen there are no greenhouse gas emissions, meaning the boat has a very small carbon footprint.

Due to the success of the test, the team have predicted that if they had used a bigger tank, they could have potentially stored 60 litres of clean hydrogen. This amount of hydrogen is enough to charge the battery of up to 20 mobile phones.

The start-up now has plans to move the technology onto a bigger yacht, that has the potential to produce 250,000 litres of hydrogen an hour. As this technology develops there is a possibility that on a larger scale this process of water splitting could be used to power vehicles and ships, as well as being used to heat our homes by using it in our boilers.