Vessel launch hailed as beginning of US hydrogen revolution

The first hydrogen powered ferry for the US maritime sector has been launched with the owners hailing the vessel as a glimpse of the future.

Sea Change, a 70-foot, 75-passenger zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell-powered, electric-drive ferry that will operate in the California Bay Area, with builder All American Marine, Inc. (AAM) launch the vessel which is now undergoing operational trials.

Vessel owner SWITCH Maritime (Switch) said; “This will be the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the US, representing a monumental step in the US maritime industry’s transition to a sustainable future.

“The ferry was developed and constructed to demonstrate a pathway to commercialisation for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell marine technologies. While still working on permitting hydrogen fuel systems for maritime vessels with the US Coast Guard, the completed ferry will exhibit the viability of this zero-carbon ship propulsion technology for the commercial and regulatory communities.”

The project has been funded by private capital from Switch, an impact investment platform building the first fleet of exclusively zero-carbon maritime vessels to accelerate the decarbonisation and energy transition of the US maritime sector.

“By working closely with the US 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,” said Pace Ralli, Co-Founder and CEO of Switch. “We don’t have to wait.”

Switch’s will look to work with existing ferry owners and operators around the country to help facilitate 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.”

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 a lithium-ion battery and a 2x 300 kW electric propulsion system.

“The hydrogen fuel cell powertrain system affords the same operational flexibility as diesel with zero emissions and less maintenance,” added AAM.

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