Hydrogen passenger ferry to demonstrate a clean shipping alternative

A commercial ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells is should begin operating between the ports of San Francisco and Oakland this summer.

Maritime Switch LLC and boat builder All American Marine Inc. goal deliver the passenger ferry change of the sea in San Francisco Bay end of may, in time for serving passengers in June, Reuters reported April 21th.

Switch, a developer of hydrogen– motorized ferriesraised $5 million in crowdfunding in 2021 for the 70-foot, 75-passenger ship. The project also received financing of a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, which said the ship would be “demonstrate the use of an electric ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells for passenger and freight service.”

The company unveiled change of the sea in a dayint statement with All US Marines earlier this year Following sea trials at Bellingham Bay from All American Sailors’headquarters in Bellingham, Wash.

But change of the sea is not the first hydrogen ferry the hydrogen engine FM Hydra launched in Norway in 2021 It is andth first youo use hydrogen gas in a fuel cell instead of burning liquid hydrogen in an internal combustion engine, according to Switch. Vessel runs on 360 kW of hydrogen fuel cells with a 246 kg ststorm tank capacity.

The project is the latest in a wave of research and development aimed at reduce greenhouse gases emissions of the transport sector. Ships and boats accounted for approximately 2% of the United States transportation emissions in 2019according to data from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“Bworking in close collaboration with the WE Coast Guard, with innovative technological partners and with the best shipyards such as all american Marine, we can make the transition to carbon-free shipping a reality today,” Co-founder and CEO of Switch Pace Rally said in a February statement. “We don’t have to wait.”

Meanwhile, a handful of passenger pilot programs are offering floating alternative power sources for ferries with up to to $500 million in grants made available by the federal 2021 Infrastructure Jobs and Investments Act. The latest round of grants, announced February 18 by the U.S. Department of Transportation, includes $7.7 million to Kitsap Transit in Kitsap County, Washington, to replace a diesel ship with a battery-electric ship, as well as the installation of charging infrastructure, and $3.4 million to the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority to build a zero-emissions ferry.

Unlike batteries, which require special infrastructure and take longer to recharge, the appeal of hydrogen is its flexibility. According to All American Marine, Sea Change the hydrogen fuel cell “offers the same operational flexibility as diesel with zero emissions and less maintenance”.

The downside is the lack of availability of zero-emission hydrogen, with about 95% of hydrogen produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming of natural gas, according to the US Department of Energy.

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