Organisations in several European countries will contribute expertise to build a hydrogen fuel cell-powered barge pushboat in Lyon, France, running on renewables-based hydrogen.
The pusher tug will be owned by Compagnie Fluviale De Transport (CFT), a member of the Flagships project and the subsidiary of transport group Sogestran.
The vessel will source its hydrogen from the Rhône river’s hydroelectric power to serve the regular convoys of barges that move up and down the river between the two cities. The Rhone river generates a significant percentage of renewable electricity in France, with 11 hydroelectric power stations on the 276km stretch of river running between the ports of Marseille and Lyon.
Sogestran’s Newbuilding Project Manager Victor Laravoire said “The great river’s water flow will create the energy, which will create the hydrogen which then is used on a barge on the river. On the barge the water formed in the fuel cell reaction to create power is then returned to the river as the bi-product from the fuel cell.”.
Mr Laravoire said the barge pushboat design will have a mobile fuel tank with a 300kg compressed hydrogen capacity, enough to power the pusher tug for two weeks. He added the company is working with French authorities and with class, “as there are no rules on how to put hydrogen on these vessels”.
The vessel’s design calls for two 200-kW fuel cells connected to a mobile, compressed hydrogen fuel tank. The fuel tank can be removed and refilled with green hydrogen which will be created at an electrolysis plant using power from the Rhône hydroelectric dams.
CFT has tenders out for a yard to build the vessel and have it delivered in mid-2021.
The Flagships project is a US$7.4M project under the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
EU’s Flagships initiative has funded two projects. The other project the consortium is involved with is a hydrogen fuel cell and power system for a Norwegian public ferry service.
Participating companies in the Flagships project include nine European partners, two ship owners, Norled and CFT, manufacturer ABB, supplier of power and automation solutions Westcon Power & Automation and naval architecture firm LMG Marin.
The fuel cell technology is provided by Danish firm Ballard Europe and vessel energy monitoring and management by France’s PersEE. Management, dissemination activities and hydrogen safety expertise are provided by VTT and industry cluster NCE Maritime CleanTech.