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US MARAD to fund hydrogen-powered-ferry project

US MARAD to fund hydrogen-powered-ferry project
The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) will set aside $500,000 for the construction and operation of a passenger ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells, and an accompanying fuel station.

The fuel cell would provide power for the ferry’s propulsion and auxiliary electrical systems, and will benefit from hydrogen’s complete lack of emissions, beyond water and heat.

Meanwhile the hydrogen refuelling station, to be set up in San Francisco, would be the largest in the world according to MARAD, and would serve local electric cars and buses as well as fuelling the ferry and other hydrogen-powered vessels.

The new ferry is one of a number of recent MARAD initiatives to introduce hydrogen into shipping. Past projects have included a containerised hydrogen-fired generator project, which began in 2013, for use as a 100 kw of shore power supply, or a portable on-ship generator for providing power to reefer containers, as an alternative to auxiliary diesel gensets.

Hydrogen for deepsea ship propulsion is understood to be a long way off, however, due to high build costs. A 2009 study from then-Germanischer Lloyd found that a 1,000 teu Hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered feeder vessel with a 920 cu m hydrogen capacity would cost 60% more than an HFO-powered equivalent. Nevertheless fuel cell technology, has been proven feasible, with a 330 kW fuel cell successfully installed and utilised aboard OSV Viking Lady since 2009.

“This study is just one more way in which MARAD is working to find new and efficient technologies for use in the maritime industry that offer clean-fuel options to cut emissions,” said MARAD maritime administrator Paul Jaenichen. “The US maritime industry can play an important role in reducing the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and creating a more sustainable future for us all.”

MARAD is also funding an effort to demonstrate a fuel cell for ship auxiliary power for its school ship Kennedy, which is used by Massachusetts Maritime Academy as a training vessel.