Earthrace Biodiesel Boat Circumnavigates Globe, Aims For World Speed Record

Earthrace biodiesel powerboat

This 100% biodiesel-powered, 78 ft wave-piercing trimaran aims to set an around-the-world speed record while maintaining a net zero carbon footprint. The Earthrace left Sagunto, Spain, on April 27, and has already made excellent time across the Atlantic, landing in Panama just 8 days later.

Inspired by the desire to “connect with people about the need to get renewable fuels into our energy mix and to inspire them to do something,” the Earthrace has already generated a whirlwind of publicity. Much of this is due to the boat’s eco-technological appeal. It’s been described as “a rally car but for oceans”, with the ability to submerge up to 23 feet underwater while powering through the ocean. The “eco-” part doesn’t just include circling the globe on 100% biodiesel. Parts of the boat are made from a hemp-based composite, bedding foams are made from canola oil, and the operation’s total carbon footprint has been balanced by purchasing carbon credits.

The Earthrace also seems to have pretty good fuel economy for a powerboat. At 6 knots, it can go 24,000 km on one tank of biodiesel, which is over halfway around the world. 6 knots is pretty slow; at a more reasonable cruising speed of 25 knots (29 mph) the powerboat can go 3700 km (2300 miles) on a single tank.

Race rules state that the voyage passes through both the Suez and Panama canals, which makes the fastest route run close to the equator. The crew will make 12 refueling stops along the way in places where biodiesel is available, hoping to beat the previous circumnavigation record of 74 days, 23 hours and 53 minutes set by UK boat ‘Cable & Wireless Adventurer’ in 1998.

This will be Earthrace’s second attempt at breaking the speed record. The team left Barbados in March of last year, but ran into significant mechanical problems that prematurely ended their trip. Let’s hope they have better luck this time.

Check out the Earthrace blog where you can follow along with the voyage. Also check out the sponsorship video (sorry about the gratuitous corporate advertising pitch, just watch the first few minutes to see what the boat looks like):

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Photo Credit: Earthrace


In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.