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Elizabeth Swann - Jules Verne - World Hydrogen Challenge



RACE AGAINST TIME: This could have been another of Jules Verne's titles. But it is not a work of science fiction, it is a man-made problem today that even the master storyteller would have had trouble predicting. Despite our scientists telling us the global warming is at a crucial tipping point, world leaders are allowing the use of fossil fuels to superheat the planet with dire consequences. Jules was adamant that hydrogen would be a source of power for mankind in the future he envisioned. In our view he was bang on the money. Green hydrogen offers us a sustainable future, based on splitting water using electrolyzers, to recombine for heat or electricity. We can use renewable solar and wind power, to create a circular economy, without CO2 and other harmful gases and particulates. This clean energy source can drive our automobiles and ships, as a major brake on climate change. What is holding us back and why? The technology exists today! Given the opportunity, we would like to prove it to you. If it is possible to complete the build of the Elizabeth Swann above by 2024, it will be the 150th anniversary of his prediction in his 1874 book: The Mysterious Island.





Hydrogen may provide fuel for cars, heavy good vehicles, fishing boats, tugs, container ships, cruise liners and yachts. For all these uses at present there is a perceived lack of infrastructure, especially at ports and harbours, where the choices of molecules presents with some confusion.


Hydrogen can be stored as a compressed gas, as a liquid, or in combination with nitrogen or carbon dioxide (ammonia or methanol), and as a hydride, combined with metals.


Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe, constituting roughly 75 percent of normal matter by mass and more than 90 percent by number of atoms. 

Stars such as the Sun are mainly composed of hydrogen in the plasma state. Most of the hydrogen on Earth exists in molecular forms such as water and organic compounds.

Molecular clouds of H2 are associated with star formation. Hydrogen plays a vital role in powering stars through the proton-proton reaction in case of stars with very low to approximately 1 mass of the Sun and the CNO cycle of nuclear fusion in case of stars more massive than our Sun.

Back on Earth, water covers around 70% of our planet.

Hydrogen gas (and as other compounds) is an energy carrier.

The energy density per unit volume of both liquid hydrogen and compressed hydrogen gas at any practicable pressure is significantly less than that of traditional fuel sources, although the energy density per unit fuel mass is higher. Nevertheless, elemental hydrogen has been widely discussed in the context of energy, as a possible future carrier of energy on an economy-wide scale.


The electrolysis of water is a simple method of producing hydrogen. A current is run through the water, and gaseous oxygen forms at the anode while gaseous hydrogen forms at the cathode. Typically the cathode is made from platinum or another inert metal when producing hydrogen for storage. If, however, the gas is to be burnt on site, oxygen is desirable to assist the combustion, and so both electrodes would be made from inert metals. (Iron, for instance, would oxidize, and thus decrease the amount of oxygen given off.) The theoretical maximum efficiency (electricity used vs. energetic value of hydrogen produced) is in the range 8894%.

Recombination, via fuel cells to form water, is markedly less efficient, in the 50% range, but still has advantages over combustion in reciprocating piston engines @ 30% - even with losses in electric motors of 5-10%.


Thus for use in IC engines expect a yield of 27%.


For electric motors, expect a yield of 40%. A 13% overall increase in efficiency.


That does not take into account conversion from crankshaft to propeller thrust. Where the electric drive train scores significantly. Especially with submerged pod thrusters, which need no gearbox or propshaft bearings/seals.


liquid hydrogen is a cryogen and presents dangers (such as frostbite) associated with very cold liquids. Hydrogen dissolves in many metals and in addition to leaking out, may have adverse effects on them, such as hydrogen embrittlement, leading to cracks and explosions. Hydrogen gas leaking into external air may spontaneously ignite. Hydrogen fire, while being extremely hot, is almost invisible, and can lead to accidental burns.

That said, all conventional fuels present with handling and storage problems of their own. Petrol and natural gas being extremely combustible - and yet used daily, without presenting undue danger.




The object of changing from fossil fuels to hydrogen based, or other cleaner fuels, is that scientists have proved that the greenhouse gasses we (humans) are producing as we industrialise, and as our population continues to grow, are causing serious harm to the planet, as climate change and with airborne pollution that is carcinogenic.


Many say it too late, but if we all push hard to identify paths to Net Zero, we may be able to define sustainable technology, where dirty fuels (and other habits) have gone unchecked, in the rush for economic growth. Where we should be aiming for circular stability.


For our part, with the Jules Verne JVH2 Trophy, we aim to bring these matters to the attention of the world via a thrill filled sporting challenge: Man and machine versus the elements, competing against each other to increase our knowledge and the potential for use of this most versatile molecule.




Hydrogen is way more versatile than fossil fuels, that mainly run piston and gas turbine engines (jets), with serious exhaust issues.


Hydrogen can be a peroxide, a hydride, compressed gas, liquid, ammonia or methanol. It can be used to run piston combustion engines (ICE), or be converted to electricity. All with clean exhausts. Wow!


But the most important thing, is that hydrogen can be made from renewable green energy, solar and wind. Where fossil fuels, once used, cannot be regenerated. Now that is what we call versatile.







The father of sceince fiction, Jules Verne



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The JVH2 trophy is inspired in part by the Eiffel Tower & Statue of Liberty.