The successful installation of a BAE Systems zero-emission propulsion system has taken place on the first US hydrogen fuel cell powered marine vessel, called Sea Change. The company provided its HybriGen Power and Propulsion solution to Zero Emission Industries for integration onto the vessel, ahead of it carrying out operations in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.
Impact investment company Switch Maritime owns and funds the Sea Change project and aims to build the first fleet of zero-carbon, electric-drive maritime vessels for adoption by shipowners and operators.
The propulsion system from BAE interfaces with a hydrogen and fuel cell system from Zero Emission Industries and lithium-ion batteries that will provide the vessel with power, removing the need for a conventional combustion engine. The all-electric system means no diesel is needed, and engine maintenance is reduced.
“We are committed to getting our customers to zero emissions with highly reliable and flexible systems that are proven on land and in the water,” commented Steve Trichka, vice president and general manager of power and propulsion solutions at BAE Systems. “This historic milestone is the next step on that journey, as we provide San Francisco with an innovative solution that reduces emissions and creates a new clean form of daily transportation for hundreds of commuters.”
BAE Systems worked on the project with vessel builder All American Marine and designer Incat Crowther. Furthermore, the controls and components used by BAE Systems for its propulsion solution have passed certification and inspection by the US Coast Guard.
The project is partially funded by a US$3m grant from the California Air Resources Board, administered by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The grant comes as part of the California Climate Investments initiative, a state-wide program that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy and improve public health and the environment.