All American Marine (AAM) has been awarded a contract to complete an 84-passenger, hydrogen-powered electric ferry that will operate in the California Bay Area. The project is known as the ‘Water-Go-Round‘ and is the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the United States. It is being developed to demonstrate a pathway to commercialization for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells as a marine power source.
The project was begun at the Bay Ship & Yacht shipyard in Alameda, where the aluminum hull and superstructure were started. All American Marine was selected for the project’s completion due to its experience in building unique, hybrid-electric vessels, the firm said.
“Having demonstrated our capabilities by delivering a number of state-of-the-art vessels over the years, AAM was the ideal candidate to complete this vessel. We believe that hydrogen fuel cell technology will prove to be a robust alternative to conventional powertrain technologies,” said Matt Mullett, AAM President & CEO. “AAM is on the leading edge of manufacturing unique vessels with advanced propulsion methods, which is why we are so excited to be a part of this project to complete construction on such a revolutionary vessel.”
The vessel will use an onboard set of fuel cells arranged in compact stacks, similar to battery racks, which allows the onboard space to be used efficiently. 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 turning the twin fixed-pitch propellers. The only byproducts of the on-board fuel cell reaction are electricity and clean water, though the “well-to-propeller” emissions profile of the fuel system depends upon the source of the hydrogen.
The project is funded by private capital from SW/TCH, an impact investment platform focused on building the first fleet of zero-emissions maritime vessels. It is also partially funded by a $3 million grant backed by the California Climate Investments initiative, a California statewide program that puts billions of CO2 cap-and-trade dollars into projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy and improve public health and the environment.
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