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First Fuel Cell-Powered Passenger Ship Launching Later This Year


When you think about fuel cell-powered transportation, you probably also think about automobiles. But Proton Power Systems might just change your perspective. PPS claims to have launched the world’s first fuel cell-powered passenger ferry. The ferry marks the first use of fuel cells in marine passenger transport.

The Zemship runs on a hybrid unit consisting of two 48 kW fuel cell systems and a lead gel battery— a combination that has twice the fuel efficiency of a diesel engine.

As you may have surmised, the fuel cells need to run on something. In this case, they run on gaseous hydrogen stored in onboard tanks. At any given time, the ship has enough fuel for three days.

A special hydrogen filling station has even been created for the Zemship. The station stores the hydrogen as a liquid, and then transforms it into a gas in an evaporator before compressing it.

After an initial test phase, the 100-passenger ship will go into commercial service later this year.

While the Zemship is an important breakthrough, we can’t forget that hydrogen is usually derived from oil and gas. However, the large reduction in carbon emissions promised by fuel-cell powered boats is still a  boon to passenger ships.

More Posts on Fuel Cells:

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was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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