Gallery: The Suntory Mermaid II Wave-Powered Boat


Wave power is looking like the next big thing in renewable energy, as evidenced by PG&E’s recent announcement about their California wave farm. And now Yutaka Terao from Tokai University in Japan, has engineered a way to put wave power to its most obvious use — to power boats! He has created a propulsion system that will power the Suntory Mermaid II’s trip from Hawaii to Japan using wave power, the expertise of eco-sailor Kenichi Horie, and a little bit of sun.

The Suntory Mermaid II will be sailed by everyone’s favorite eco-sailor, Kenichi Horie. Horie will attempt the month’s long trip from Hawaii to Kii Channel in Japan. Although it is a first for the Suntory Mermaid, it’s not the first time that Horie has done this trip. In 1992 he pedaled all the way from Hawaii to Okinawa, made his way across the Pacific in a solar powered boat, and ventured in a catamaran made out of recycled beer barrels.

The propulsion system works by taking the usually-hindering power of waves to propel the boat forward. Two fins set at the front of the boat generate the power by moving up and down as the waves rock the boat. The fins act much like a dolphin’s tail, pushing the boat as the waves move past them. As if that wasn’t enough, the hull of the boat is made out of a super-thin recycled aluminum and solar power will be used for the ship’s interior electronics.

We applaud the eco-captain for putting wave power to use in its natural context. The Suntory Mermaid will set sail later this month.

+ Wave Runner @ Popular Mechanics
+ Go For it, Kenichi Horie


or your inhabitat account below


  1. DimetroBot May 22, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    While there are many patents on wave-powered boats, it’s nice to see someone actually commit hull to water, and journey in her. Note that New Bedford and Nantucket whalers always chopped the flukes off the whales they’d killed, because in waves the dead whales traveled at 1 knot or so, right over the horizon. That kept their kills immobile while they after the next one.

  2. ambiente » Blog A... March 9, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    […] solare e lo scafo è in alluminio riciclato. Niente motore. Un approfondimento in inglese. Via Inhabitat. […]

  3. Chris March 3, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    An interesting idea. I look forward to seeing him complete the trip and finding out what speed can be maintained using wave power.

  4. March 3, 2008 at 7:34 am


  5. Brave New Lefa February 26, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    I chuckled a little bit to myself when I saw this. I’ve thought about wave power, sure, but even I’d never considered something as straightforward as wave power to power a boat. What a fantastic application. Since it’s on such a small scale, I wonder how many watts it can generate. It seems solar and wind power on the sea would also be interesting. Perhaps through a combination of all three we could overhaul our shipping fleets to be carbon neutral…

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home