Superyachts, and the people who own them, tend to get a bad rap. Besides representing excess in a time when many are struggling to make ends meet, the luxurious ships carry a staggering carbon footprint. Enter Project 821: the world’s first superyacht powered by hydrogen. 

Built by Feadship, a Dutch custom superyacht manufacturer, the nearly 390-foot-long vessel departed its Amsterdam shipyard on May 4 after five years of design and construction. “The aim has been to develop a new, clean technology not just for this project, but for the world,”  Feadship Director Jan-Bart Verkuyl said in a statement, adding: “We have now shown that cryogenic storage of liquified hydrogen in the interior of a superyacht is a viable solution.”

Hydrogen fuel-cell technology works by transforming hydrogen into electricity, which is then stored in lithium-ion batteries. Unlike diesel, used by many large ships, hydrogen power is entirely combustion- and emissions-free — the only byproducts from the process are water vapor and heat


In true waste-not fashion, the latter is being put to good use aboard Project 821: It heats the pool, jacuzzi, and steam room, and even the towel bars and floors in guest bathrooms. The innovative system is one element in Feadship’s pledge to develop net zero yachts by 2030. 


Designed for family use, the yacht has an owner’s deck that’s 121 feet above water and complete with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an elevator, gym, living room, pantry, and two offices, each with its own fireplace. The vessel also boasts outdoor dining and lounge areas, a library, and a movie theater. 


Though it can’t travel as far as its traditional counterparts, Project 821 can claim another record: It’s the largest motor yacht ever launched in the Netherlands, per Feadship. And there’s a functional reason for its imposing size. 

Hydrogen is light, but it requires 8-10 times more storage space than diesel fuel, and it must be housed in a double-walled cryogenic tank for safety. That tank, which can hold around four tons of hydrogen, as well as 16 fuel cells, their switchboard connection to the electrical grid, and the water vapor vent stacks add 13 feet to the ship’s length. 


Project 821 joins a fleet of other hydrogen-fueled vehicles that have made the news in recent years, including several passenger trains. Its exterior was designed by British firm RWD Studio, and it’s owned by luxury yacht brokerage Edmiston, which is offering it for sale. 

Jamie Edmiston, the brokerage’s chief executive, commented on the instructions given to Feadship for construction of the ship: “The brief was to build the greenest and most environmentally advanced yacht ever built, without compromise. It was a huge challenge, but one that the team has embraced and delivered on.” 


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