All American Marine launches fuel cell ferry demonstrator

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All American Marine (AAM) and vessel owner Switch Maritime have announced the launch and operational trials of Sea Change, a 70ft, 75-passenger zero-emissions, hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered, electric-drive ferry that will operate in the California Bay Area.

Claimed to be the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the US, the ferry was developed and constructed to demonstrate a pathway to commercialization 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 companies hope that the completed ferry will exhibit the viability of this zero-carbon ship propulsion technology for the commercial and regulatory communities.

The project is funded by private capital from Switch, an impact investment platform building a fleet of exclusively zero-carbon maritime vessels to accelerate the decarbonization 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.”

The company is hoping 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,” added Ron Wille, AAM president and 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 Emission Industries (formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine), utilizing 360kW of Cummins fuel cells and Hexagon hydrogen storage tanks with a capacity of 246kg. This system is integrated with 100kWh of lithium-ion battery provided by Xalt and a 2x 300kW electric propulsion system from BAE Systems. The vessel design originates from Incat Crowther, and the construction supervision and management are led by Hornblower Group.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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