SWITCH completes first hydrogen fueling of commercial vessel in US


(BELLINGHAM, Wash.) — SWITCH Maritime announced that the world’s first hydrogen fueling of a commercial marine vessel was successfully completed on Nov. 18 at All American Marine shipyard. The vessel, Sea Change, is now beginning its final sea trials before delivery.

The new 75-passenger ferry received hydrogen into its 242-kilogram tanks on the upper deck. It uses that hydrogen in fuel cells, producing electricity to power electric motors for distances up to 300 nautical miles and speeds up to 20 knots – similar capabilities as diesel-powered vessels – with the added benefits of zero exhaust smoke or other emissions and very little vibration and noise.

The fuel loaded in the vessel’s tanks includes green hydrogen, produced in California by an electrolyzer powered with renewable solar power, which results in zero carbon emissions in the production of the fuel as well.

SWITCH Maritime photo

“While it’s taken us years to get to this point, the timing couldn’t be better,” said Pace Ralli, CEO of SWITCH Maritime. “In this moment, our nation is more committed than ever to making the transition to a carbon-free economy. Hydrogen will play a major role in that future, and major players in the maritime industry are ready to decarbonize. We are grateful to all our partners, and proud to play a small role in accelerating the wide-scale adoption of hydrogen power. Hopefully this is just the first domino to fall.”

The fueling follows the regulatory approval in October by the U.S. Coast Guard of the hydrogen power train and storage systems on Sea Change, representing the culmination of years of cooperation with the Coast Guard focused on safely integrating hydrogen power and storage systems on passenger vessels. The achievement of this significant milestone unlocks the possibility of many future deployments of similar hydrogen power systems on all vessel types, including oceangoing containerships.

Zero Emission Industries (ZEI), formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine, is responsible for the design and development of the first-of-its-kind maritime hydrogen and fuel cell system as well as the vessel’s unique fueling system that allows it to be fueled directly from a hydrogen truck, and was responsible for the successful regulatory approvals of all hydrogen-related aspects on board. ZEI develops and sells turnkey hydrogen power systems, advanced fuel cell balance of plant subsystems, fueling systems, and proprietary safety systems for a range of applications.

“We’re super excited to see the Sea Change start sea trials, and I felt proud watching our fueling and hydrogen systems operate in the real world for the first time,” said Danny Terlip, lead engineer at ZEI. “Our whole mission at ZEI is to build new technology that makes hydrogen accessible and easy to use, and this event demonstrates how far we’ve come.”

For the fueling during sea trials, SWITCH has engaged West Coast Clean Fuels (WCCF) to develop and permit the end-to-end clean fuel supply chains that will deliver hydrogen to Sea Change, as well as BayoTech, for high-pressure gaseous hydrogen delivery to Sea Change during sea trials in Washington using transport trailer-to-ship transfer.

SWITCH’s vision is to achieve a fully zero-carbon fueling supply chain of green hydrogen, which is currently in short supply in the U.S. Building more and larger vessels that demand large volumes of hydrogen offtake will increase green hydrogen production volumes, and drive the cost of hydrogen lower than diesel, further advancing the rollout of hydrogen-fueled fleets.

Launched in August at All American Marine, Sea Change is a 70-foot catamaran ferry designed by Incat Crowther. It is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell system from ZEI, which includes 360 kW of fuel cells from Cummins and 242 kg of hydrogen storage tanks from Hexagon Purus, and a 600-kW electric propulsion system from BAE Systems, which includes 100 kWh of lithium-ion battery storage from XALT. The construction management was led by the Hornblower Group. After trials and delivery, the vessel is expected to start operations in the San Francisco Bay Area in the second quarter of 2022.

– SWITCH Maritime


By Professional Mariner Staff