The First Hydrogen Fueling of a Passenger Ferry in the U.S. Is a Success

Hydrogen fuel cells are seen by many as one of the best green solutions for trucking, aviation, and shipping. But, just as with electric cars, implementing this solution is not only about efficient propulsion systems, but also about the adequate infrastructure. This is why the first hydrogen fueling of a commercial ferry in the U.S. is a milestone for the maritime industry.
Sea Change the hydrogen fuel cell ferry was successfully refueled for the first time 6 photos
Photo: Business Wire
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Switch Maritime launched its hydrogen fuel cell catamaran ferry, called Sea Change, back in August. The 70-foot (21 meters) vessel is equipped with a 600 kW electric propulsion system from BAE Systems, and 360 kW of fuel cells from Cummins. The most recent milestone after its launch was the first hydrogen refueling of the Sea Change ferry, recently conducted at the All American Marine shipyard.

The vessel’s 533-pound (242 kg) tanks were filled with hydrogen, some of it produced in California, with clean energy. This pioneering event was also possible due to BayoTech, who transported the gaseous hydrogen for the ship’s sea trials, and West Coast Clean Fuels (WCCF), who developed a clean fuel supply chain.

Sea Change boasts a fuel cell system and a fueling system that claim to be unique in the industry, developed by Zero Emission Industries (ZEI). The design of this system made it possible for the ferry to be fueled straight from a hydrogen truck – which simplifies the whole process.

But it took a long time to get to this remarkable achievement. The team at Switch Maritime had been working with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for years, to make sure that the hydrogen fuel cell system would be integrated safely on its passenger ferry. Finally, USCG approved the vessel’s hydrogen powertrain and storage systems in October.

This successful hydrogen refueling of a commercial ferry, the first of its kind in the U.S., proves that hydrogen power systems could be implemented on larger, ocean-going ships as well, in the near future. According to Switch, there are still not enough green hydrogen supplies in the U.S., but as more ships turn to this alternative power system, the costs of green hydrogen will eventually drop, encouraging even more companies to switch to clean alternatives.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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