Over the past weeks, the TU Delft Hydro Motion Team has been putting its new boat to the test. Initially, powered only by the battery, and finally, powered by hydrogen. This also set the stage for the latest feat, the boat’s first “flight” using its hydrofoils. Ultimate goal is to cross the North Sea with the boat.

Having secured its yearly spot in Drimmelen, only a few metres sail away from the Amer, the boat has been undergoing rounds of tests, troubleshooting and in-water fixes. Upon much fixing and tuning, the TU Delft Hydro Motion Team sailed for the first time.

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First sail and hydrogen fuel cell tests

After fixing issues with the steering system by adding a shunt, the team of students conducted their first sailing test. They navigated out of the harbour and onto the Amer, performing several manoeuvres. Despite initial challenges with the steering radius at low speeds, the students managed successful 180-degree turns and completed the wet electric test requirements.

After that, the first hydrogen wet test was conducted, producing water on the water. Initial tests revealed some safety and technical challenges, but team states they have made significant progress in fine-tuning the fuel cell protocols and addressing sensor errors.

First flight

After testing the roll and pitch capabilities of the foils and height control mechanism without taking flight, with a little bit of troubleshooting afterwards, the students managed to foil for the first time. During this first “flight”, the boat successfully lifted 60 cm out of the water and soared above it at almost 50 km/h, demonstrating the potential of the design.

Minimal tuning allowed for stable foiling, turning and landing. Several trials were conducted and a test of the emergency landing feature (which proved to out-do the pilots themselves, smoothtly and swiftly getting our hull back in the water) took place.

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Crossing update

While the boat is being tested in the water, a crew back in Delft works on the preparations for the North Sea crossing. Here are some highlights from the process:

Transporting the boat and equipment back to the Netherlands involves numerous procedures and considerations. The plan is to use the Eurotunnel for most equipment, while the boat will be transported via ferry.

The Hydro Motion Team are continuously in contact with all legal entities to ensure that the crossing will follow all rules and regulations. Both the Dutch and British Coast Guards have given tentative approval for the crossing, and they are in close contact with the Port of London Authority for the possibility to sail on the Thames.

A detailed emergency map has been created, indicating which harbours to head to in case of emergencies.

Final steps

Last week, the team started moving their testing headquarters from Drimmelen to the Scheveningen Harbour. Here, the pilots will be sailing on real life North Sea conditions, in order to prepare for the long crossing ahead. These final two weeks, will be used to collect data and make the last adjustments, ensuring optimal performance during the crossing, including the fine tuning of the height control to adapt to the North Sea waves.

Photo by the TU Delft Hydro Motion Team.

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