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ZERO V is a trimaran looking much like a heavyweight version
of the Cable & Wireless Adventurer designed by Nigel
CLEANTECHNICA JULY 2018
The latest news from Sandia is that the lab is taking a close look at the feasibility of using hydrogen fuel cells to power research vessels.
The proposed vessel is named Zero-V, and the lab is looking at storing liquid hydrogen on board, not developing a whole new contraption to produce hydrogen on board.
But the storage angle is a mighty hill to climb when it comes to planning for voyages longer than a short ferry hop.
The nature of seagoing research also requires a lot more finesse than shuttling people around. Sandia is quoted as saying:
"Instead of going fast for short periods and carrying a lot of people, the research vessel goes slower for much longer distances, carries fewer people and must allow the operation of sensitive scientific instrumentation…"
"Mapping or installing equipment on the ocean floor requires a vessel to be stable over a single point for long periods, even if there is wind or waves."
Aside from technological issues, complying with marine and port safety regulations is a major challenge.
On the other hand, there are significant benefits about using hydrogen fuel for seagoing research, especially compared to diesel, aside from zero emissions at the tailpipe.
One of the biggest additional benefits of using hydrogen to power a boat is the absence of ecologically damaging fuel spills. It is impossible to have a polluting hydrogen spill on the water.
Hydrogen is more buoyant than helium, hydrogen rises on its own and eventually escapes into outer space.
The only danger is explosions, where hydrogen is one of the most reactive gases know to man, as we know from the zeppelin
Hindenburg that exploded in 1937 killing everyone in that area.
The only emission from fuel cells is water, which as Sandia points out is practically drinkable. The water could be recycled for use on board, by the crew and/or for lab work, saving the expense and energy involved in desalinating seawater for general use.
So far, the lab is looking at the application for coastal research, where regular refueling is available, and it has just released the results of its new feasibility study.
The project is a partnership with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the naval design specialists Glosten, and the risk management firm
GL. Here’s a recap from Sandia:
"…Feasibility was found for a 10-knot vessel with 2400 nautical mile range, able to perform 14 Scripps science missions, and could be refueled with liquid hydrogen at 4 different ports of call along the U.S. west coast."
To make room for on board hydrogen storage as well as the crew and research equipment, Glosten came up with a triple hull design (a trimaran):
"…finding a way to store the heavy hydrogen tanks while accommodating at least 18 scientists, 11 crew members and three laboratories was a challenge…"
Part of the solution was selecting a trimaran boat design tjat offers a great deal of space above deck for the tanks, and adequate below-deck space for other science instrumentation and machinery.
As far as feasibility goes, Sandia also checked with the US Coast Guard to confirm there are no “show-stopping” issues.
Meanwhile, Sandia is already thinking that the technological underpinnings of its Zero-V vessel could be transferred to even larger boats, including cargo ships and cruise ships.
The new study was funded by the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, so it’s a reasonable bet they’re taking a good look at broader applications.
In the big picture of US energy development, fuel cell vessels could be yet another growing market for hydrogen sourced from natural gas.
Or, maybe not. Maybe renewable hydrogen technology will go mainstream in tandem with the development of fuel cell ships.
Sandia’s expertise in seagoing fuel cells is also the foundation for the company Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine, which is organizing that new ferry boat for San Francisco.
The new ferry uses renewable hydrogen sourced from water-splitting.
& WIND POWERED FERRY - The
Cross Channel Challenger
(CCC) is a project currently on the drawing board looking for backing to develop a coastal cruiser that is zero
carbon just like the hydrogen projects, but where the
vessel converts energy from nature onboard for
propulsion without risk of hydrogen leaks or fires.
is a toe-in-the-water project using budget off the shelf
equipment to keep the costs down. Hence, the theoretical performance is lower than might be
achieved but higher than the current benchmark. It is a useful stepping stone to medium range ferries and
eventually bigger ships with longer ranges. Solar
combined with wind power could be the winning
combination. Comparing the two technologies will be
interesting. For sure, the solar powered ferries will be safer
and wind powered vessels do not need big hydrogen tanks next
to docks for
ships to fill up from. They do not need trucks to deliver the
hydrogen from the conversion plants and last but not least,
hydrogen is potentially dangerous, as the Zeppelin 'Hindenburg'
demonstrated in 1937 when a spark ignited the fated airship,
destroying it in minutes.
The SF BREEZE will consume an estimated 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds) of hydrogen per day, and will be supported by a station that can dispense 1,500 kilograms (3,306 pounds) per day.
That will make this station about twice the size of the current largest hydrogen fueling station in the world, officials say. It will also be the first of its kind to support both land and marine use.
Program backers hope the economy of scale from dispensing such large amounts of hydrogen will lower overall prices on the local market, too.
Once an initial feasibility study is completed, design and construction of the ferry boat and fueling station will start.
CONVERSION, CONVERSION - It is the number of additional
stages of splitting water using electricity, storing as a gas
and then recombining it to extract the electricity that was
put in at the beginning at a huge net energy loss. Elon Musk
has a point don't you think?
Hydrogen is recognised as a fuel with the potential to deliver 100% zero-carbon operation
in marine transport, but the systems proposed so far are
expensive and complicated, where the first rule of engineering
is to Keep It Simple Stupid: KISS.
allure of the hydrogen economy is plain, splitting ordinary water
using electrolysis to obtain oxygen
gas is like a schoolboy chemist dream come true, especially if we can generate
what appears to be free electricity
using solar cells
and wind turbines to split the water. Then the hydrogen is
is a cost, including the cost of manufacturing the solar
panels or wind
turbines and the transmission line installation and
maintenance. The inefficiencies in the conversion and handling
chain make hydrogen expensive to produce and so potentially
un-competitive - as compared to using the electricity needed
to convert water, directly.
addition, hydrogen is extremely flammable unless stored very carefully.
Space rockets powered by hydrogen and oxygen sometimes
explode, with the Hindenburg zeppelin explosion being signs of
things to come in a world fraught with human error. We might be
courting disaster. If something can happen, it will happen.
Passengers would be traveling in potential time bombs. Great
INDEX OF H2 POWERED FUEL CELL SHIPS
FERRY OPERATORS & ISLAND SERVICES
P&O Ferries -
SEA - ARCTIC
OCEAN - ATLANTIC
OCEAN - BALTIC
SEA - BAY
OF BENGAL - BERING
SEA - CARIBBEAN
SEA - EAST
CHINA SEA - ENGLISH
CHANNEL - GULF
OF GUINEA - GULF
OF MEXICO - INDIAN
OCEAN - IRISH SEA
SEA - NORTH
SEA - PACIFIC
OCEAN - PERSIAN
GULF - SEA
OF JAPAN - SOUTH
CHINA SEA - SOUTHERN
PUBLISHED - Point and Sandwick Trust, in collaboration with a number of industry partners (Wood, Siemens-Gamesa, Engie, ITM, CMAL, Johnston Carmichael and Ferguson Marine), have published a feasibility study to assess the suitability of using hydrogen produced from local wind farms to power future ferry services operating in the Western Isles and West Coast of Scotland.
The study was part-funded by the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme. Read the full report here.
The project looked at the practical and economic feasibility of using new island wind farms to produce zero-carbon “green” hydrogen fuel for future types of clean emission ferries operating on the established Caledonian MacBrayne routes.
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