North America’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell powered, zero emissions ferry (ZEF) has launched and started operational trials around San Francisco. The 70-ft. (21-m), 75 passenger high-speed ZEF, named Sea Change, is the flagship for a planned fuel-cell powered fleet, transporting commuters around San Francisco Bay, and will demonstrate and test the potential of commercialization of fuel-cell powered marine vessels to the global maritime industry. With the ZEF only producing water and electricity as a byproduct, it will be 100% emissions free.
Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine provides the hydrogen fuel cell power package and serves as technical and regulatory consultants on the project. The vessel uses an onboard set of fuel cells arranged in compact stacks, similar to battery racks, which allow the onboard space to be used efficiently, the company said.
The powertrain was designed by Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine. The Sea Change is powered by a Cummins 360-kW fuel cell and can reach speeds up to 22 knots. The fuel cells turn hydrogen into electricity by injecting hydrogen on one side and by supplying compressed ambient air on the other side of a proton exchange membrane (PEM fuel cell). The hydrogen fuel storage is connected to the fuel cell powertrain, creating electricity to run the propulsion motors and turn the twin fixed-pitch propellers.
The Sea Change is owned by SWITCH Maritime (SWITCH), a North American impact investment company working to create America’s first fleet of zero-emission marine vessels. This project is also partially funded by a US$3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, administered by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, that comes from the California Climate Investments initiative. The Sea Change has completed its final phases of construction and has officially began sea trials.
SWITCH is partnering with Clean Marine Energy (CME) to develop electric charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure onshore. Backed by the same founders, CME plans to make clean fueling infrastructure available in multiple ports in the United States.