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AAM, SWITCH Maritime unveils USA's first H2 fuel cell passenger ferry

Sea Change: H2 fuel cell-powered passenger ferry (Source: All American Marine Inc.)

All American Marine Inc. (AAM) and the vessel holder SWITCH Maritime have announced that they have launched and completed operational trials of Sea Change, a 70-foot (in size) 75-passenger zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell-powered, the electric-drive ferry that will operate in the California Bay Area.

Sea Change will be the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the U.S., signifying a significant step in the U.S. maritime industry's switch to a sustainable future. The ferry was developed and constructed to demonstrate a pathway to commercialization for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell marine technologies. While still working on permitting hydrogen fuel systems for maritime vessels with the Coast Guard, the completed ferry will display the feasibility of this zero-carbon ship propulsion technology for the commercial and regulatory communities.

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. The system is integrated with 100 kWh of the lithium-ion battery provided by XALT and two 300 kW electric propulsion systems 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 is led by Hornblower Group.

The project is supported by private capital from SWITCH, an impact investment platform building the first fleet of exclusively zero-carbon maritime vessels to accelerate the decarbonization and energy transition of the U.S. maritime sector.

"By working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, with innovative technology partners, and with best-in-class shipyards such as All-American Marine, we can make the transition to decarbonized shipping a reality today," Pace Ralli, co-founder, and CEO of SWITCH said in a declaration. "We don't have to wait."

SWITCH's mission-driven platform pursues to work with present ferry owners and operators around the country to help enable their adoption of zero-carbon vessels to replace aging 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 Ron Wille, AAM president & COO. "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 completed construction on such a revolutionary vessel." 

Author : Moulin Oza
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