California legislators have allocated the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) grant funding of around US$35 million to design and build a new coastal research vessel with a first-of-its-kind hydrogen-hybrid propulsion system.
The new vessel, which will be operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will serve as a platform for essential education and research dedicated to understanding the California coast and climate change impacts to the coastal ecosystem.
The proposed 125-foot (38-metre) vessel will take three years to design, build, and commission. It will replace the research vessel Robert Gordon Sproul, which has served Scripps for nearly 40 years and is nearing completion of its operational life.
The design is scaled so the vessel will be able to operate 75 per cent of its missions entirely using hydrogen with only pure water and electricity as reaction products. For longer missions, extra power will be provided by clean-running modern diesel generators.
The vessel will be equipped with instruments and sensing systems, including acoustic Doppler current profilers, seafloor mapping systems, midwater fishery imaging systems, biological and geological sampling systems, and support for airborne drone operations.
The vessel will be designed to carry up to 45 students and teachers to sea on day trips.
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