In a case of sci-fi comes to life, the world’s first hydrogen-powered flying boat is scheduled to be built in Dubai next year, 2023
Dubbed, THE JET, specifications for this vehicle concept have already been finalized. It will span 10 meters, weigh 6 tons, and will fly 3 ft over the water’s surface. Its maximum speed will be 40 knots or 46 mph, and it will be able to carry 8-12 passengers and a pilot.
In an ever-changing, technological world, we are already going beyond flying cars and into flying boats! THE JET was designed by Swiss startup, THE JET ZeroEmission, in collaboration with UAE-based Zenith Marine Services and DWYN LLC to manufacture and operate.
Like its startup name implies, this hydrogen-powered flying boat will create zero emissions. It will run on two hydrogen fuel cells to avoid environmental damage. Wing-like blades known as hydrofoils will create the uplift needed in the water. And, in addition to creating zero emissions, it claims to create zero waves and zero noise.
Engines that create zero emissions and no noise?
Two of the most fascinating things about The JET are that it claims it will create no noise and leave no carbon footprint while operating. You might be wondering how that’s possible.
The vehicle is going to be powered by two hydrogen fuel cells that don’t produce emissions as it smoothly sails “silently” over water. These hydrogen cells create electricity by mixing hydrogen and oxygen in specially treated plates, which combine to form a bigger fuel cell “stack.”
Engineers have been able to shrink fuel cell stacks and batteries significantly to the point where they could potentially be used in ordinary cars. Right now, they’re more commonly found in buses and very large vehicles.
THE JET collects oxygen from the air through intakes, normally in the grille, while hydrogen is kept in aluminum-lined fuel tanks which automatically seal should there be an accident in order to prevent leaks.
The vessel’s inner machinery puts these ingredients together to release usable electricity – and water is a byproduct. That makes this process one of the most environmentally-friendly alternatives to fossil fuel technology to date.
By reducing the amount of platinum used in the stacks, engineers have been able to reduce the cost of producing the fuel cells. But the price remains high, even with the little amounts of platinum used, restricting the widespread use of this technology.
That said, trains and airplanes are already being adapted to run on hydrogen fuel. And recent research suggests that one day hydrogen fuel cell cars could pose a serious challenge to electric cars in the race for renewable energy.
How soon can you board THE JET?
THE JET is scheduled to take its inaugural flight in 2023 at the COP28 UAE climate conference in Dubai. However, it’s not set to become a mainstream form of transportation available to the mass market anytime soon.
According to THE JET ZeroEmission, THE JET will mainly serve hotels and “exclusive individuals” located in the “most glamorous spots in the world.”
That definitely narrows down the number of potential passengers. However, it’s still great to see innovation in the transportation sector headed in the right, environmentally-friendly direction!
Partial funding of the 10 million euros required for the project has already been secured according to manufacturers.
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