These days, data centers, portable USB battery chargers and all sorts of transportation are going green thanks to fuel cell technology. Now you can add submersibles to that list: Japan is developing a 33-foot-long submarine that runs off emissions-free energy. Japanese Defense Ministry officials told AFP that the finalized tech is about five years out, but they estimate the $25 million unmanned sub (or UUV) will be capable of cruising deep waters for an entire month on a single charge. Sure, 30 days seems pale in comparison to the 50-year core life of the nuclear-powered USS Nautilus, but electro-chemical energy isfar cleaner, and can be much cheaper in the long run.
Japan and the United States will jointly develop a fuel-cell powered submarine that can run for a month under the sea on a single charge, a report said on Friday. The top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the unmanned, 10-meter (33-feet) long sub would be able to chart a pre-programmed course before returning to base. The story, citing unnamed Japanese defence ministry officials, comes as Tokyo and Washington look to beef up their security alliance as they warily eye an increasingly assertive China. Defence ministry officials could not immediately confirm the deal. The submarine would be used for patrolling with sonar capable of detecting potential threats, but it would not be equipped with torpedoes or other weaponry, the Yomiuri said. Japan’s defence ministry would earmark about 2.6 billion yen ($25 million) over the next five years to develop the high-performance fuel cell, it added. The US military reportedly got involved when it heard about its Japanese counterparts’ plans for a fuel-cell sub. Fuel cells generate emissions-free energy through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, and are most commonly associated with environmentally friendly vehicles. Japan is a leader in the technology while the US a major player in hydrogen storage development. In June, Japan and Australia announced a possible submarine development deal as they stepped up their defence ties.