• Full renewable energy pack aboard Imerys Clean Energy showcasing accessible clean-tech for maritime sector;
  • New biodiesel that substitutes fossil-diesel for back-up power;
  • Important solar PV developments for improved durability, performance and safety.

Phil Sharp will be demonstrating some novel clean technologies aboard his Class40 Imerys Clean Energy in order that he can be fossil-free for the 3,550 mile Route du Rhum transatlantic race. This highly competitive entry not only attempts to win races and break records whilst being carbon-neutral, but importantly it showcases vital technologies for the maritime sector that can reduce air pollution on the oceans.

Imerys Clean Energy will be generating the auxiliary power it needs for system electronics through a sustainable mix of solar PV, hydro-power and biodiesel. These three sustainable energy sources complement each other in order to ensure reliable, clean power generation in different weather conditions and at different times of the day. The boat’s primary source of energy will be through an array of high efficiency solar, together with a hydro-turbine, used principally at night when boat speeds are sufficiently high. The main engine on the boat, powered by advanced biodiesel, will provide backup power in case of light winds and low light conditions.

“Our racing project is about setting an example to the maritime sector over clean technologies that are currently accessible, scalable, and practical. Our aim is to encourage firstly boat owners and then the wider industry to move away from fossil fuels. The maritime sector is currently one of the dirtiest industries out there, as a major contributor of toxic air pollutants, particularly sulphur and nitrogen oxides. We really need to start embracing these technologies and we need to do this now.”  Commented Phil Sharp, Skipper and Technical Director of Energy Challenge.

Energy Challenge title partner Imerys, leader in mineral specialties for the industry, is strongly committed to the development of sustainable solutions, and the team have greatly benefited from their expertise throughout the partnership. The biodiesel that Imerys Clean Energy will be using during the Route du Rhum is an advanced biofuel produced using Imerys CynerSorb®, a speciality adsorbent for cost effective refining and purification of biodiesel. Biodiesel reduces life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 72% compared with fossil diesel, and importantly is free of harmful pollutants such as sulphur and aromatics found in fossil fuels. It is produced from a combination of animal fats, inedible corn oil, recycled cooking oil and vegetable oils in order to provide a sustainable and bio-degradable alternative.

“At the moment biodiesel is more expensive and considerably less accessible than conventional diesel, but these factors will become less restrictive with increased uptake once more boat owners accept that it is our duty to be responsible for our environment.

“Solar PV is also a no-brainer and something that should be integrated widespread over the deck of all boats. It wasn’t until we researched the market back in 2016 that we found no safe and durable solution actually existed, so we decided to develop our own!

“We partnered with SunPower and developed an initial prototype applying Imerys abrasive minerals, which actually provided anti-slip properties better than any deck paint. Durability then became the next barrier and for this we have just finished an evolution, a light-weight composite solar module that will be rigorously tested during the Route du Rhum.

“This is now our second season racing with clean energy and we hope that our strong race results will motivate others to ‘be clean on the inside as well as the outside’; to be responsible in limiting their air pollution on the ocean, and set an example for the industry to follow.” Commented Phil.


Official website & race tracker: www.philsharpracing.com

Social media: PhilSharpRacing

Race start: 4th November, 14:00 local time;

Route: St Malo – Guadeloupe, 3,550 miles;

Class40 Competitors: 53;

Class40 ETA: 16 days, 20th November.