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Project to build hydrogen fuel cell ferry wins $3m grant

Vessel set to be first zero-emission ferry in the US.



The hydrogen fuel cell-powered 'Water-Go-Round' is expected to be launched in mid-2019. Image credit: Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine


Updated on 26 Jun 2018 08:07 GMT

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has awarded a grant of $3 million to Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine (GGZEM), in collaboration with partners, to fund the construction of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered ferry that will provide a passenger service between the ports of San Francisco, Oakland, Redwood City and Martinez.

Financing for what is set to be the US's first zero-emission ferry comes from California Climate Investments - a statewide program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) whilst also strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) is administering the initiative, alongside other partners, including Bay Ship & Yacht Co., BAE Systems, Hydrogenics, Red and White Fleet, Incat Crowther, Hexagon Composites, OMB-Saleri, the Port of San Francisco, and Sandia National Laboratories.

The total cost of the ferry project has been estimated at $5.5m.

Vessel characteristics

The 70-foot aluminium catamaran - named the 'Water-Go-Round' in a light-hearted nod to the cyclical nature of how the vessel's technology works (where hydrogen is created from water and becomes water again after being used in a fuel cell) - has been designed by Incat Crowther and will be built by Bay Ship & Yacht Co. of Alameda.

The vessel is to be powered by dual 300-kW electric motors using independent electric drivetrains from BAE Systems. Power is generated by 360 kW of Hydrogenics proton exchange membrane fuel cells and lithium-ion battery packs. The Water-Go-Round's top speed is 22 knots.

Hydrogen tanks created by Hexagon Composites, with valves and hardware from OMB-Saleri, are to be installed on the upper deck, and contain enough hydrogen to go up to two days between refuellings.

Additionally, GGZEM's 'zero infrastructure' flexible fuelling arrangement allows the Water-Go-Round to be refuelled anywhere with truck access.

After launch

Once the vessel has been launched, it is due to operate for three months in San Francisco Bay. During this period, Sandia National Laboratories will independently gather and assess performance data.

CARB will also use the real-world data to verify the suitability of the technology for marine use, and the project partners will collect feedback from passengers and operators.

Red and White Fleet will be operating the ferry for the demonstration and plans to purchase the Water-Go-Round as the first of several vessels with GGZEM-integrated powertrains in order to meet its commitment to a 100 percent zero emission operation.

The Water-Go-Round is expected to be launched in mid-2019.

Brainchild of Tom Escher

As Bunker Index reported back in August 2016, Tom Escher, president of Red and White Fleet - a company that operates a passenger ferry service in San Francisco, and which recently switched its entire fleet to Neste MY Renewable Diesel - initiated the interest in hydrogen fuel cells at the port and began looking into research being carried out by Sandia National Laboratories.

After sharing his idea of a fuel cell ferry with the lab, this then led to a grant being secured from the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration to look into the feasibility of building the SF BREEZE (San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric vessel with Zero Emissions).

Fifteen months of research led to the scientists concluding that it was feasible to operate a 149-passenger ferry on hydrogen-filled fuel cells at speeds of up to 35 knots, and that it could meet regulations.

The findings of the SF BREEZE project then led to the creation, in 2017, of GGZEM - a developer of marine power systems that comply with all current and future environmental regulations. The firm was founded by Tom Escher and Joe Burgard - Red and White Fleet's Executive Vice President.






Related Links:

Red and White Fleet switches to Neste MY Renewable Diesel
San Francisco 'enthusiastically supports' hydrogen bunkering
Hydrogen-powered ferry project secures EU funding
Bunker suppliers must prepare for death of fossil fuels: ICS director
Viking Cruises developing cruise ship powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology
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