Air Quality new Hornblower Hybrid ferry uses hydrogen fuel cells, wind, and solar energy

Published on December 9th, 2010 | by Tina Casey


New York City Gets Its First Hydrogen-Fueled Hybrid Ferry Boat

December 9th, 2010 by  

new Hornblower Hybrid ferry uses hydrogen fuel cells, wind, and solar energyStaten Island Ferry, move over: there’s a new ferry coming to town, and it’s fully loaded with sustainable energy features. The new 1400-horsepower Hornblower Hybrid Ferry will run on hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels, and wind power, with help from diesel engines that meet U.S. EPA Tier 2 (pdf) pollution standards.

Sustainable Ferries and the Statue of Liberty

The new ferry was commissioned by Statue Cruises, which runs visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Both sites, of course, come under the National Park Service, so it’s no accident that sustainable transportation is a plus: the federal government has been focusing intensively on cleaning up air pollution in coastal regions and ports. Aside from cutting emissions from ships including ferries and tugboats, the reduction of emissions from port and coastal truck traffic is also a priority.

The Hornblower Hybrid Ferry

Aside from its use of sustainable fuel, the new ferry boasts some sustainable interior design features, including energy efficient LED lighting, countertops made from recycled glass, LEED-certified carpeting, and aluminum wallcoverings instead of wallpaper. Derecktor Shipyards, which is building the Hornblower along with a sister ship that launched two years ago in San Francisco, has also partnered with the U.S. EPA to test non-copper exterior paint and other alternative formulas that reduce impacts on the marine environment.

Staten Island Ferry Emissions

Meanwhile, the Staten Island Ferry has also been cleaning up its act. In 2005, a series of pollution control upgrades began with the Alice Austin, which was retrofitted with catalytic converters that achieved a significant reduction in particulates, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. Assuming that greater use of waterways for mass transit is in the future for coastal communities, these and other measure to reduce emissions from marine traffic will gain even more importance.

Image: Statue of Liberty by Koshyk on

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • rachelle martin

    I think it is amazing what Hornblower has done. I hope they continue to build echo friendly Hybrid ferry’s. There are so many National Parks with water service that really need there help. Way to go and Good luck on future indeavors

  • If you are interested in following the project and learning more about the technology check out the New York Hornblower Hybrid blog page. Over the upcoming weeks we will have video, pictures and plenty of opportunities for Q&A:

    • Tina Casey

      Hi Cameron, thanks for checking in!

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