German shipyard Lürssen has launched the first hydrogen powered superyacht. The 114 metre (374 ft) ship, first dubbed Project 13759 and now titled Project Cosmos, will go to an unnamed Japanese billionaire upon completion.
Rumblings have been persistent in recent years about the arrival of alternative power sources, namely hydrogen, into the superyacht market. Various news outlets have reported that Lürssen, among others like Sunseeker and Feadship, are deeply invested in developing its own hydrogen fuel cell.
Other marine companies, like engine builders Toyota and Yamaha, have also allocated major resources towards developing hydrogen-powered engines.
In early 2022, Michael Breman, sales director at Lürssen, told Robb Report: “Someone has to be the pioneer.” Breman acknowledged a hydrogen superyacht was in development, which now appears to have been Project Cosmos, and said the owner wished to remain anonymous but believed that hydrogen was the future.
“He’s smart about it. He didn’t jump in without taking stock of everything,” added Breman.
With the launch of Project Cosmos, boaters will now get the first glimpse at the viability of hydrogen.
Construction began in 2020, but the vessel was launched last week at the Lürssen shipyard in Germany. While obviously incomplete, it bears several unique exterior features. The ship will include an explorer-style superstructure with a swimming pool, a large cutout at the stern for a tender, a helipad on the bridge deck, and what appears to be a 360-degree planetarium or astronomy observatory on the top deck.
The vessel isn't expected to be completed until 2025.
The exterior of Project Cosmos comes courtesy of Apple designer Marc Newson. The renowned craftsman has a vast portfolio across the automotive, marine, aviation, and luxury goods industries. Newson, along with fellow designer Jonathan Ive, designed the first Apple Watch in 2014. Other notable clients include the likes of Dom Pérignon, Louis Vuitton, and Ferrari. Newson also designed the exterior of the well-known superyacht Solaris.
The hydrogen fuel cell integrated into Project Cosmos has been in development since 2012 when Lürssen first partnered with the Freudenberg Group.
The fuel cell technology uses stored liquid hydrogen fed into an assembly of individual membrane electrodes to produce electricity. The integral detail of the Lürssen fuel cell is that it uses methanol rather than liquid hydrogen to initiate the process. Methanol reduces some of the technical complexity while also requiring less storage space and can be stored in conventional tanks rather than oversized specialty hydrogen tanks. Once the electrification process is complete, the power is then stored inside lithium-ion battery packs for use across the ship's systems. The electricity produced can power both the main engines and the ship's secondary systems (electronics, navigation equipment, etc). The hydrogen generation process results in zero emissions or other pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, or CO2. The only waste product is water.
“Fuel cells have very little maintenance and are more efficient than a diesel engine, which is already a very efficient way to produce power,” said CEO Peter Lürssen at a Lürssen Live event last year.
Project Cosmos is expected to generate enough hydrogen power to sustain itself for up to 15 days while at anchor. Or, at a slow cruise the ship can travel up to 1000 miles without producing a single emission.
While still unconfirmed, it's believed the superyacht has been commissioned by billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa who was photographed onboard during the launch. Maezawa has founded several major Asian companies, including record label turned online retailer Start Today and fashion brand Zozo. Maezawa is also one of the few civilians to go to space, having spent 12 days aboard the International Space Station in 2021.
You can watch the launch of Project Cosmos in the video below: