Bill Gates ordered the world’s first hydrogen-powered superyacht, valued at £ 500 million ($ 644 million) and boasting an infinity pool, helipad, spa and gym.
Billionaire co-founder of Microsoft commissioned the Aqua ship – a 112 m (370 ft) luxury vessel completely powered by liquid hydrogen – which was advertised last year at the Monaco Yacht Show by the Dutch design studio Sinot.
Speaking of the project last year, the naval designer Sander Sinot said: “For the development of Aqua we have been inspired by the lifestyle of a demanding and forward-looking owner, by the fluid versatility of the water and cutting-edge technology, to combine this in a superyacht with truly innovative features. “
The boat boasts five decks and with room to accommodate 14 guests and 31 crew members. In an additional eco-friendly feature, the gel-powered fire bowls allow guests to stay warm outside without burning wood or coal.
But its most avant-garde feature is hidden under the decks: two 28-ton vacuum sealed tanks cooled to -423F (-253C) and filled with liquid hydrogen that powers the ship. The fuel will generate energy for the two engines and one megawatt propellers via onboard fuel cells, which combine hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity. Water is a by-product.
The ship is unlikely to go overboard before 2024, according to the Sunday Telegraph, which reported the Gates commission. When it arrives at sea it has the potential to reach a speed of 17 knots (about 20 miles per hour) and travel 3,750 miles (or roughly from London to New York) before having to refuel. The Sunday Telegraph said the boat would have a “diesel backup” due to the shortage of hydrogen filling stations.
Gates, 64, currently ranked as the second richest man in the world with a fortune of $ 118 billion (£ 92 billion), is a normal superyacht vacationer who has not previously owned his ship. Typically renting yachts for personal use, he previously spent his holidays off the Sardinian coast aboard the $ 330 million Serene yacht, owned by vodka tycoon Stolichnaya Yuri Scheffler.
The investment underscores Gates’ long-standing interest in alternative fuels and its enthusiasm for new technologies capable of addressing industry and transportation emissions which together account for 75% of the world’s carbon footprint.
He is an investor in Heliogen, a Californian startup that aims to turn sunlight into a heat source above 1,000 ° C that could help replace fossil fuels. It is the first company in the world to concentrate sunlight to reach temperatures high enough to power heavy industry without carbon emissions.
Gates also promised to give most of his estimated $ 118 billion fortune to good causes through The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This week he donated $ 100 million to help fight coronavirus.