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Video: Boat breaks fuel efficiency record

Video: Boat breaks fuel efficiency record

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Piranha is an unmanned vessel that's an unheard of 400 percent more fuel efficient than similar models.

With all the buzz around efforts to make cars and planes more fuel efficient, it's easy to forget that boats have a lot of room for improvement as well.

On April 11, at the premiere of the Sea Air Space show in Maryland, a tech firm named Zyvex Technologies drove that very point home when they unveiled the Piranha, an unmanned vessel that's 400 percent more fuel efficient than similar models.

Developers achieved the record-breaking milestone after subjecting it to a 600-mile test across a stretch of the Pacific Ocean near Puget Sound, where the boat reached a cruising speed of 25 knots while using 12 gallons of fuel per hour. A similar boat traveling at the same speed would have completed the course while consuming at least 50 gallons of fuel per hour.

With a full tank of gas, Zyvex says that the 54' Piranha can log up to 2,800 nautical miles under open-ocean conditions with waves that exceed 12 feet.

"The most expensive part of operating a boat can be the fuel costs. Since the Piranha gets 2.5 miles per gallon going 25 knots, its operators would only spend one fourth as much on operating costs," said Russell Belden, vice president of Zyvex Technologies.

Much of this improvement is owed to the Piranha's ultra-lightweight nano-enhanced body, which is comprised of a specially-designed carbon fiber infused with carbon nanotubes. Even though the material allows the boat to weigh a nimble 8,400 pounds -- almost five times lighter than a boat of comparable size -- it's reportedly 40 percent stronger than common ship metals.

Defense contractors have begun evaluating the Piranha for potential use in a variety of applications, which include anti-piracy, harbor patrol, and oceanographic surveying.

(via PR Newswire)

Photo: Zyvex Technologies

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure