Nov 27

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein.

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The TRYBRID Project will deliver a technology demonstrator for the new energy agenda, on a platform that has never before been seen : a fuel cell circumnavigation of  the planet, using energy in new ways  through onboard processing. Photovoltaic solar energy, will hybridize with a fuel cell, and a gas fired diesel electric, in a three way

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combination, atop the triple hulled, TRYBRID.  To do this natural gas is steam reformed on demand,  to supply a hydrogen reformate gas, to power a PEM  fuel cell. As well, the 70% hydrogen brew, is added to internal combustion, to clean up the exhaust from the gas fired diesel electric system, (used for 20 knot sprint speeds). This revolutionary trimaran, will be taken on a 3 year circumnavigation of the world’s capital cities, in a partnership in negotiation between China and Australia.  The project is both a climate change ambassador, and a lighthouse for the clean use of gas based fuels. Given the inevitable ramping of oil prices, overlaid with climate change concerns, the TRYBRID project is, indeed, ‘An idea whose time has arrived’.

Australia’s world dominance as designer of the most efficient fast ferries, combined with leading edge EU hydrogen technology,  is being deployed by the Australians and Chinese, to confront and abate concerns around CO2, peak oil, and diesel emission toxicity.

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Commercial spin-offs, in the marine and transport sector are substantive. A range of marine uses in recreational,  ferry and military use can be based on the fast, efficient TRYBRID platform, where speed over long distance does not come with a heavy fuel bill, nor a  sea movement inducing sea sickness. The lack of hot exhaust give the vessel a low infrared signature, which when combined to the boats ability to refuel on unrefined gas at sea, or to run on a choice of fuels, has clear implication for patrol boat deployment. The development of the engineering design and accreditation standards needed to promote gas as a marine fuel, is an important part of TRYBRID’s purpose.

More significant in the project’s commercial  application, is the shift towards natural gas as a stepping stone into hydrogen as a transport fuel. TRYBRID obviates the need for a specialist hydrogen refueling stations, and by laying bare the comparative efficiencies of both gas fired diesel combustion, and the fuel cell, at last, a hydrogen project is being honest about the energy needed to make hydrogen.  The uptake implications for transport, especially marine transport, are important.

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This website details the boats design purpose and features. We look at the designers, builders, academics, government and industrialists who are engaged on the project, along with the aid teams with whom the boat will be working, after its world technology demonstration tour. This site is a blog that has tracked the  progress of the project. Feel free to add a comment.

The significance of the goodwill partnership proposed between China and Australia, through TRYBRID, sends a profound and responsible message from two countries, who together, are producing and using large amounts of gas based energy. The message is clear. Innovation  in partnership, can change the destiny and direction of the transport sector, currently on a global highway, where the current traffic flow leads to an environmental and economic cliff face.

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The circumnavigation of an innovation solution like TRYBRID has the potential to penetrate the global consciousness, by taking the boat to the press, the politicians and trade delegates, at hundreds of individual ports, both on the coast and alongside rivers, across the globe.  This is a project coming to a capital city near you. The ease with which TRYBRID’s can be used to host environmental, trade and diplomatic discussion, is unprecedented.

The trimaran hull itself has been used as a fast, stable and low energy tool of indigenous fishermen through millennia. In the late nineties,  the same hull form was stretched to the same dimensions and weight as TRYBRID, in vessel known as Cable and Wireless Adventurer, which, with great fuel efficiency, dominated the around the world speed record for a decade. A rival project, claiming environmental credibility through bio diesel use, by the name of Earthrace, (again a long thin trimaran), only last year, broke the record, in wave of international press attention. The hull form is a proven concept, not only in terms of ocean crossing ease, but in terms of fuel efficiency.dsc05997.JPG

Natural gas is in increasingly abundant use, as it is frozen and liquefied for overseas transport. TRYBRID rethinks the transport potential of natural gas, not just to ship it overseas, but as a fuel to propel ships. TRYBRID stores its gas in compressed form, in high pressure carbon fiber tanks, but there is both increasing interest and possibility, in refueling TRYBRID with the less bulky, liquefied natural gas, at the same time as floating LNG plants are being built.

Gas is not an uncommon fuel…what is uncommon, is its steam reformation, to take H2 atoms from both H2O and CH4, and instead of just burning the gas, the 70% H2 reformate ‘brew’, can be chemically converted into electrical energy through a fuel cell.  Reforming H2 onboard ship has only recently been pioneered by the navies of Europe, providing the ships ‘hotel’ power without a heat seeking missile’s infrared lock on, to the hot exhaust. This idea is the stepping stone technology to bypass the failure of the ‘hydrogen highway’.

But most of the world’s transport sector is still powered by the diesel or petrol engine. 05.jpgThe unburnt toxic particles in diesel emissions are alleged to be killing 1.2M Chinese and Indians each year.  So as a transition technology, TRYBRID addresses this issue, by using the snappy ignition of hydrogen gas, to burn the corner s of the combustion chamber, by adding a dash of hydrogen to the gas mix fueling the sprint speed diesel engines. TRYBRID is the complete package in addressing the steps ahead, to reduce and clean up energy use in transport.

p8250391.JPGBut no package is complete, unless it addresses all potentials. A multihull ship has an expansive roof space, and it is both inexpensive and logical to use this space for photovoltaic solar cells. The TRYBRID has an all solar cell roof, with ‘pop-top’ side cabins affording their ‘roof’ to be angled towards the sun .p8250389.JPG Under solar cell alone, TRYBRID will do 5 knots. There is no need for generators to power the ships refrigeration, desalination and air conditioning, and infact, solar energy can be stored in TRYBRID’s 2000kg of lithium battery bank, to make all short passages around the harbour completely solar sourced.

Original plans for TRYBRID had more emphasis on electrolyzing hydrogen from the solar cells, but currently technologies in electrolyzing, unlike steam reformation, have not been adapted for use at sea, where G forces throw the liquids in electrolyzers around. Extensive discussions in Europe during TRYBRID’s 2009 engineering due diligence, favoured using solar energy for direct use in propulsion, or for storage in batteries, where only a few percent of the electrical energy is lost, compared to over 60% lost when solar electricity is converted, compressed, and stored as hydrogen.02.jpg

Another important element of TRYBRID’s drive to hybridize energy with extreme efficiency, is in the use of an all electric drive chain. The electric motor has high torque ideal to gain the maximum efficiency out of a propeller. With up to 60% of all energy generated being potentially lost through and inefficient prop, it is most important to address this issue with care. Step one is to swing a big prop, but newer steps, in engineering out of Holland, have added computer designed props to electric motors via sophisticated controller technology, to greatly reduce the propulsion inefficiencies.

By decoupling the prop from say the diesel engine,  twin diesel  generators can feed one electric motor, so each diesel is only used on demand, being kept in its fuel efficient, ‘sweet spot’ at all  times. The single, relatively bullet proof electric engine, can be fed energy from all or one of the  ‘trybridized’ energy sources… namely: solar cell,  fuel cell, battery bank, or for speed.. the diesel  generators.data1.jpg

The project has generated interest and debate at the marine colleges, and is an ideal vehicle through which several of the energy and hydrogen research projects linked between Chinese and Australian centres can find a hands-on linkage.

TRYBRID’s naval architects, One2three Design have a great track record in fast, fuel efficient fast ferry design. The builder of the world’s first hydrogen boat, and founder of the Marine Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association in Germany, Christian Machens, is the European Project Manager for the project.  Documentary film footage has been collected.  A media content and management team under Tim Levy is ready. The Chinese projectperspective-04-small.jpg management, for the China boat build and Chinese partnership, YCA, is appointed.  The Shenzhen marine industry has written to the Australian Government asking them to prepare and understanding of the project for talks. Diplomatic consultancy is engaged.  Overall Project Manager, and TRYBRID founder, Rod Davis has recently returned from a year’s engineering due diligence, and more recently, from negotiations in China, preparing the Sino-Australia partnership, where efforts in briefings for Shenzhen, Canberra and Beijing are underway.

Contact for the project can be directed to Rod Davis 61 418 235561, trybrid@yahoo.com

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