SWITCH Maritime and All American Marine have launched and begun operational trials for the world’s first commercial vessel fully powered by hydrogen fuel cells
The 21-m, 75-passenger zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell-powered, electric-drive ferry will operate in the California Bay Area. This will be the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the US.
The ferry was developed and constructed to demonstrate a pathway to commercialisation for zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell marine technologies. While still working on permitting of hydrogen fuel systems for maritime vessels with the US Coast Guard, the completed ferry will exhibit the viability of this zero-carbon ship propulsion technology for commercial and regulatory communities.
The project is funded by private capital from SWITCH, an impact investment platform building the first fleet of exclusively zero-carbon maritime vessels to accelerate the decarbonisation and energy transition of the US maritime sector.
“By working closely with the US Coast Guard, with innovative technology partners, and with best-in-class shipyards such as All American Marine, we can make the transition to decarbonised shipping a reality today,” said SWITCH co-founder and chief executive Pace Ralli. “We don’t have to wait.”
SWITCH’s mission-driven platform seeks to work with existing ferry owners and operators around the country to help facilitate their adoption of zero-carbon vessels to replace ageing diesel-powered vessels, leveraging significant experience from the technologies used in the build of this first ferry.
“Hydrogen fuel-cell technology will prove to be a robust alternative to conventional powertrain technologies,” said AAM president and chief operating officer Ron Wille. “AAM is continuing our tradition of building vessels on the leading edge of technology using advanced propulsion methods, which is why we are so proud to have to completed construction on such a revolutionary vessel.”
The vessel is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell power package provided by Zero Emissions Industries (formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine), comprised of 360 kW of Cummins fuel cells and Hexagon hydrogen storage tanks with a capacity of 246 kg. This system is integrated with 100 kWh of lithium-ion batteries provided by XALT and a 2 x 300 kW electric propulsion system provided by BAE Systems. The hydrogen fuel cell powertrain system affords the same operational flexibility as diesel with zero emissions and less maintenance. The vessel design originates from Incat Crowther, and the construction, supervision and management was led by Hornblower Group.
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