Zero Emission Industries Leads Project to Develop Zero Emissions Solution for Small Commercial Vessels

The project will test hydrogen fuel cell marine vessel technology designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from fishing, fire, ferry, and other small commercial vessels in California.

LOS ANGELES— Southern California Gas Company announced on April 27 they, along with the California Energy Commission, will be providing funding for a project that aims to develop zero-emission technology for small commercial marine vessels.

SoCalGas said the company will provide $200,000 in funding for the project, led by Zero Emission Industries, formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine, and the CEC will provide $2 million.

The project will modify a commercial vessel with a hydrogen fuel cell in place of a traditional combustion engine. The vessel will be tested in the waters off of Long Beach and San Francisco Bay over the course of six months, according to a press release from SoCalGas. The goal is to bring the fuel cell technology to the market to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from small commercial vessels throughout California such as patrol, fishing, fire, rescue, ferry, taxi, and other vessels.

“With California being home to over 1 million vessels, 98% of which are under 40 feet long, developing a small fast zero-emission vessel solution will have a profound impact on the market, the economy, and air quality,” said Dr. Joseph W. Pratt, CEO of ZEI, in a press release.

The hydrogen fuel cell powertrain will use the latest automotive-style fuel cell technology and will be designed to optimize overall performance, with vessel speeds ranging from a few knots to over 50 knots, according to the press release from SoCalGas. The boat will be fueled with hydrogen through mobile, portable systems developed by ZEI for marine vessel fueling. These portable fueling systems will be built as part of the project, using hydrogen sourced from California’s retail hydrogen stations.

In a letter of support for the project, Matthew Arms, the director of environmental planning for the Port of Long Beach, wrote that the port has been challenged in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the commercial harbor craft sector.

In the Port of Long Beach 2018, Emission Inventory harbor craft accounted for 19 percent of diesel particulate matter and 7 percent of port-related greenhouse gas emissions.

“This proposed project is an important stepping stone in demonstrating a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain with a power range that is applicable to a wide range of harbor craft vessels in our Port including crew boats, small harbor tugs, and workboats,” wrote Arms. “The Port will support the project by welcoming the vessel through our complex during its demonstration. We also look forward to potentially participating in the project’s technical advisory committee to help ensure the results of the project will be relevant and useful.”

SoCalGas is providing funding as part of its effort to meet a commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its operations and delivery of energy by 2045. They announced the new commitment on March 23.

“We recently announced our pledge to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in our operations and delivery of energy by 2045, and our work with the CEC and ZEI to develop fuel cell technology for commercial boats could aid this commitment,” said Neil Navin, vice president of clean energy innovations at SoCalGas, in the press release.

Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine, now ZEI, has worked on several other Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology projects, including Enhydra, the first aluminum-hulled, lithium-Ion battery-electric hybrid vessel built from the keel up under U.S. Coast Guard subchapter-K passenger vessel regulations. The 600-passenger vessel was commissioned by the Red and White Fleet, a sightseeing and charter tour company operating in the San Francisco Bay Area, and launched in 2018.


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