Swiss space and naval engineering company Almatech and Japanese maritime development platform e5 Lab (a joint venture between Asahi Tanker, Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Mitsubishi Corporation) have formed a partnership that aims to decarbonize short-distance passenger transport in Japan. The companies’ stated intent is to develop the Zero Emissions Speed Shuttle Concept (ZESST), a passenger shuttle powered by hydrogen fuel cells, for the Japanese market.
Developed by Almatech over the past three years, ZESST features a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion battery packs, and has a claimed energy consumption that is about one-fifth that of a conventional diesel-powered vessel. Its environmental credentials are further bolstered by the use of a composite hull constructed using plant-based fibers.
Using a modular design, Almatech says the vessel can be scaled to accommodate 50-400 passengers. “Using a combination of new-generation hydrogen fuel cells and high-density batteries together with torpedo-like electric motors and optimized propellers for the ship powertrain was only part of the solution,” stated Almatech’s CTO Dr Luc Blecha.