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Students participate to the 2015 Hydrocontest

Seven École Polytechnique students will compete against about twenty teams from universities around the world for the 2nd Hydrocontest from July 14 to July 19 on Lake Geneva, in Switzerland. The contestants are invited to design, buid and pilot the most energy efficient boat.

They have been preparing for several months. Ulysse Dhomé, École Polytechnique student, and six other classmates* work on their Group Science Project since the beginning of September, a teamwork that prepares the future engineers for project management. The seven students decided to participate to the Hydrocontest, an international student competition organized by the Hydros Foundation, which aims to develop new methods to increase the energy efficiency of ships. "The facts speak for themselves: most of the goods are now transported by sea, but pollutant emissions are still too high," says Ulysse Dhomé who wants to work in this field after his studies at l'X . "I am convinced that the seas and oceans are our future, both for transports and for energy, or even more if we take aquatic farms or water habitats into consideration," comments the sailing adept.

The rules are simple: the Hydros Foundation provides each team with the same electric engine and a grant to foster innovation. The amount of available energy is imposed to travel a set distance and the ranking is made according to the running time. Students have several months to design and build one or two boats, with maximum dimensions of 2.50 x 2.50 x 2.00 m. Teams compete in two categories: the Mass Transport category in which each vessel must hold 200 kg of ballast to simulate the displacement of a cargo vessel, and the Private Boats category in which the prototypes, loaded with 20 kg, represent leisure boats.

To prepare the competition, École Polytechnique students were supported by their tutor, Pierre Perdon of the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), and their coordinator, Jean-Marc Chomaz, researcher at the Hydrodynamics Laboratory (École Polytechnique / CNRS). Through a partnership with Safran, students were able to discuss with a naval architect from VPLP Design, a French based firm, "one of the most renowned in the world when it comes to race sailing boats," says Ulysse Dhomé.

After nearly eight months of theoretical studies, the students started building their boats mid-May. To design their ships, the students looked for "simplicity". Their leisure boat resembles a flying catamaran. "Two hydrofoils, like airplane wings, are immersed so as to bring out the hulls of water and to minimize drag and be very energy-efficient. Two stabilizers, remotely adjustable, are used to facilitate takeoff. Once off, the boat's stability ise only based on the calculations we made," explains Ulysse.

For the Mass Transport category, the seven students built a "green" boat based on Elium resin and jute fiber. "This resin, generously provided by Arkema and recently arrived on the market, is particularly innovative because it is recyclable, unlike epoxy or polyester resins commonly used in the marine industry," says Ulysse. The fiber jute, coming from Bengal Gold Association based in Bangladesh, is both ecological and social, since jute industry is declining in the country. The uses for this fiber are still in development, as it is tested to design surfboards, boat parts or entire ships. "Our ship is the first vessel made with this mixture of materials and it is recyclable!" says the student. The sailing qualities of the two prototypes of École Polytechnique team will be evaluated during the Hydrocontest. Seventeen teams will compete from July 14 to 19 on Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

> Learn more about the Hydrocontest 2015 event

*Thomas Bourdais, Fabien Cockenpot, Maeline Ferret, Emil Garnell, Camille Guévenoux, Guillaume Le Boucher d’Hérouville.