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Clean Transport A new fuel cell demonstration project led by Sandia National Laboratories will feature a portable, self-contained hydrogen fuel cell unit currently in the design phase. Once completed, it will be deployed to the Port of Honolulu by Young Brothers, Ltd., one of the project partners and a primary shipper of goods throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
Image Credit: Young Brothers, Ltd

Published on March 3rd, 2014 | by James Ayre

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Port Of Honolulu Will Soon Be Home To State-Of-The-Art Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

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March 3rd, 2014 by
 
The Port of Honolulu will soon be home a state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell auxiliary power system — providing clean low-emissions power to docked and/or anchored ships.

The current plan — which follows up on last year’s pre-pilot study and analysis — is for a highly portable, self-contained hydrogen fuel cell unit to be deployed to the dock in 2015. The fuel cell unit will be able to provide power whether floating on a barge or sitting on a dock, and will be easily transportable to wherever power is needed.

A new fuel cell demonstration project led by Sandia National Laboratories will feature a portable, self-contained hydrogen fuel cell unit currently in the design phase. Once completed, it will be deployed to the Port of Honolulu by Young Brothers, Ltd., one of the project partners and a primary shipper of goods throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Image Credit: Young Brothers, Ltd

A new fuel cell demonstration project led by Sandia National Laboratories will feature a portable, self-contained hydrogen fuel cell unit currently in the design phase. Once completed, it will be deployed to the Port of Honolulu by Young Brothers, Ltd., one of the project partners and a primary shipper of goods throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Image Credit: Young Brothers, Ltd


The new project is being headed by hydrogen researchers from Sandia National Laboratories — together with several partner groups, they are currently developing the unit as a solution to some of the water and air pollution problems common to large ports.

“No one has ever built this kind of custom unit for this purpose,” explained Sandia’s project manager, Joe Pratt. “The unit will fit inside a 20-foot shipping container and will consist of four 30-kilowatt fuel cells, a hydrogen storage system and power conversion equipment.”

Sandia National Laboratories provides more:

The system will be delivered to and deployed by Young Brothers, Ltd, one of the project partners and a primary shipper of goods throughout the Hawaiian Islands. The unit is undergoing detailed engineering and design through mid-2014 and, after fabrication, assembly and training for Young Brothers operators, will be operational during a six-month deployment in early 2015. Young Brothers, the project’s demonstration partner, is a subsidiary of Foss Maritime Company, a shipping firm that has strong environmental and financial interests in the project.

After conducting a study of various ports in 2013, Sandia analyzed Young Brother’s shipping operations in more detail. Like many operators, the company uses diesel engine generators to provide power to refrigerated containers.

“We compared the efficiencies of their diesel engines versus fuel cells, studied the energy efficiencies at various power levels and estimated the savings and reductions in emissions that would be realized if they were to convert to a fuel cell-powered operation,” stated Pratt. “Analyses have shown that when generators are frequently producing less than maximum power, such as in the Hawaii application, the efficiency advantage of fuel cells compared to the combustion engine increases.”

While the study did have to do a bit of estimation (ex: price of hydrogen), the work did seem to clearly show that Young Brothers could “save fuel and energy while greatly reducing emissions, if it switched primarily to fuel cells.”

Thanks to these results, the project is now moving forward with funding from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD). The project is also being backed by Hydrogenics Corp (designing and building the prototype unit and supplying the fuel cells) and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (providing assistance with hydrogen supply issues).

While this initial project will only last six months, the researchers involved are aiming for it to lead to the development of a commercial technology that could be used at ports around the world.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • James Van Damme

    Where do you buy hydrogen in Honolulu?

    • Doug

      Hydrogen can be affordably manufactured from natural gas, which is not in plentiful supply in Hawaii. I am curious how this concept could be viable.

      • Bob_Wallace

        If one is willing to pump more carbon into the atmosphere then just use the NG. Don’t bother converting it and losing energy.

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