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Old 10-06-2016, 07:19 AM   #1
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Hydrogen-Powered Boats!

Zero Emissions / Powerful: Hydrogen-Powered Boats - May be coming to a marina near YOU!

Proposed San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric Vessel with Zero Emissions (SF-BREEZE).

A Sandia National Laboratories-led study found that a high-speed, hydrogen-fueled passenger ferry is feasible.

First-of-its-kind vessel can achieve speed with zero emissions
LIVERMORE, Calif. — Nearly two years ago, Sandia National Laboratories researchers Joe Pratt and Lennie Klebanoff set out to answer one not-so-simple question: Is it feasible to build and operate a high-speed passenger ferry solely powered by hydrogen fuel cells? The answer is yes.

The details behind that answer are in a recent report, “Feasibility of the SF-BREEZE: a Zero Emission, Hydrogen Fuel Cell High Speed Passenger Ferry.” SF-BREEZE stands for San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric Vessel with Zero Emissions.

“The study found that it is technically possible to build a high-speed, zero-emission hydrogen-powered ferry. We also believe this can be done with full regulatory acceptance,” said Pratt.

“In the course of the study, we examined over 10 major issues where feasibility was initially unknown. SF-BREEZE sailed through them all,” added Klebanoff.

Tom Escher, president of San Francisco’s Red and White Fleet, first conceived of the project when he asked if it was possible to do away with emissions altogether on one of his ferries.

“This is a game changer. We can eliminate environmental pollution from ships,” he said. “This could have a major impact on every shipyard in the country.”

Funded by the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration and led by Sandia, the feasibility study brought together the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), the U.S. Coast Guard, naval architect Elliott Bay Design Group, the Port of San Francisco and dozens of other contributors.

“Not long ago, the prospect of pollution-free transportation seemed like science fiction,” said Maritime Administration Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen. “Today, through public-private collaboration on projects like SF-BREEZE, we are making progress to turn it into a reality.”

Novel boat design
Hydrogen-powered ferries do exist, but most are smaller, slower vessels used for tours on lakes and rivers. The SF-BREEZE study set out to discover whether it is technically feasible to build a large, fast vessel; it could meet maritime regulations; and it could be economically competitive with modes of transportation already available in the San Francisco Bay area.

The group drew up conceptual specifications: a 150-passenger commuter ferry that would travel four 50-mile round-trip routes each day at a top speed of 35 knots (roughly 39 miles per hour) about 60 percent of the time. The ferry could refuel midday, between the morning and afternoon commutes.
“This kind of boat has never been built before,” said mechanical engineer Curt Leffers, the project manager for Elliott Bay Design Group. “Hydrogen fuel cells are heavier than diesel engines for a given power output, so achieving the right power-to-weight ratio for the vessel was tricky.”

The need for speed drove the design to a slightly longer catamaran. The engineers were able to save weight by consolidating the support equipment for the fuel cells.

To achieve the necessary safety standoffs from the fuel cells, the designers placed the fuel cells on the main deck of the vessel in a separate compartment. Leffers explained that this provides physical separation between the fuel cells and passengers.

The project supports Elliott Bay’s commitment to the environment. “I’m a big believer in developing environmentally friendly designs,” Leffers added. “This project has been terrific because it’s something I really believe in. I think that this proof-of-concept, that this boat can be built, is very important for future projects.”

Regulations and economics
ABS issued a conditional Approval in Principal to verify that the conceptual design would be compliant with applicable regulations and rules and to identify any potential gaps in compliance. Combining their assessment with feedback from the U.S. Coast Guard, Sandia found no regulatory show-stoppers and concluded that the vessel will be acceptable from a regulatory perspective once a more detailed “ready-to-build” design is generated.
“ABS is proud to have participated in the SF-BREEZE feasibility study and advance the research on unique challenges of designing a high-speed passenger ferry powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells,” said ABS Chief Technology Officer Howard Fireman. “The collaboration with Sandia and the project team extends our knowledge base and the potential technology transfer to address the challenge of reducing the environmental footprint.”
The hydrogen ferry would cost about twice as much as a comparable diesel ferry with today’s prices. Much of that cost is in the fuel cell system.
“Right now, we can’t achieve economic parity with a comparable diesel ferry,” said Pratt. “But this is a question we need to explore further. Is economic parity necessary from the outset? Lessons from the automotive market tell us maybe not.”

Vehicle manufacturers have successfully brought fuel cell electric vehicles to market even though those cars are more expensive than comparable internal combustion engine vehicles. Many experts expect mass adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles to bring down prices of hydrogen fuel cells.

Optimization is next step
The next step is to optimize the vessel design. “We need to consider if the parameters we started out with are optimal for the technology that is available today,” said Pratt.

Working with Red and White Fleet and other stakeholders, Klebanoff and Pratt are now undertaking an optimization study. They will examine the tradeoffs between speed and costs and emissions among other factors.

Red and White Fleet President Escher sees SF-BREEZE as the start of a revolution in marine transportation. “When this boat is launched, it will be a seed. When you add a seed to water, it grows,” he said. “This seed could grow into a 40-meter tugboat, a 70-meter supply boat or a 300-meter oceangoing ship trading between the West Coast and Hawaii. And all at zero pollution.”
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Old 10-06-2016, 07:53 AM   #2
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Well if it goes the way of the Hydrogen fuel cells thought to be the future of automobile engines then it may just die a slow death. I invested in a number of hydrogen fuel cell companies and lost some $$. Interesting concept and only time will tell.
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Old 10-06-2016, 07:56 AM   #3
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More expensive to build, heavier, catamaran...? Will this convince the traditional yachters to migrate over? I like new technology and clean environment, but I don't have 50 years before it can be in a 40'-er economically. I hope they succeed and improve fast... lol
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Old 10-06-2016, 09:00 AM   #4
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Frankly I wouldn't want to have a BIG tank of high pressure hydrogen in the boat. Also, where would you get it refueled? A standard commercial hydrogen gas cylinder holds hydrogen at 3,500 psi when full. Refilling a hydrogen tank on a boat would require reliably making connections good to that pressure. That is going to happen at a typical fuel dock...uh huh. Also, even at high pressure the amount of hydrogen in a tank isn't all that great, so unless you are willing to convert a large part of the internal volume of your boat to gas storage, you will have very limited range before refuelling. A leak in the system will create a potentially explosive hydrogen/air mixture.

Basically hydrogen fuel could work for a ferry running between established stations equipped to refuel the ferry. That overcomes the range issue with hydrogen for that case. For a pleasure boat, burning hydrogen would require a distributed network of hydrogen fueling stations. In other words large tanks of high pressure hydrogen at fuel docks. Also there would need to be infrastructure to transport hydrogen to the fueling stations. Visualize tank trucks like propane tankers except that the tank contains hydrogen at several thousand PSI instead of propane at 100 PSI.

Finally, while hydrogen does burn "clean" with water as the combustion product, one has to ask where the hydrogen comes from. There are a couple of sources. They include steam reforming of petroleum products and processes such as electrolysis. Steam reforming is basically reacting a hydrocarbon like methane with steam at high temperature (1,200-1,800 F) which breaks down the methane to produce a mixture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The weight of CO and CO2 produced is much greater than the weight of hydrogen. The down side of all these processes is that the energy required to produce a given volume of hydrogen is greater than the energy available from burning the hydrogen.

Basically, hydrogen is clean at the point of combustion, but involves pollution at the point of hydrogen production and significant risks for transportation and refueling.

No thanks.
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Old 10-06-2016, 09:29 AM   #5
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Finally, while hydrogen does burn "clean" with water as the combustion product, one has to ask where the hydrogen comes from.
High alpine coastal lakes in the coast mountains of BC...water dropping 3000 feet in steep angle cascades with no fish habitat for protestors/protectors to get excited about...simple/small hydroelectric plants...storage for hydrogen...ships could pull alongside and top up hydrogen...hydrogen could be used to supplement regular fuel for greater efficiency. Workable first steps?

A friend of mine has been tossing this idea around for a while. Let me know if you want to get him started with a sizeable investment and I'll make the introductions
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Old 10-06-2016, 09:33 AM   #6
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TD hit the nail on the head. Hydrogen power is not pollution free. Unless the energy used to make the hydrogen is zero emissions, you can't call hydrogen power as zero emission.
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:20 AM   #7
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TD, must be a chemical engineer, like me. And he is right. You feed 1,000 btu of petroleum gasses to a reformer and you make 500 BTU of hydrogen. the rest goes up the stack as greenhouse gasses.


And to those who say hydrogen can be made from solar power disassociating water to make hydrogen. Yes, but why not use that power in an electric vehicle directly rather than shipping, storing the hydrogen and then using it to feed a fuel cell, all of which uses up some of the energy.


The "hydrogen economy" is a pipe dream for these reasons.


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Old 10-06-2016, 10:26 AM   #8
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Zero emissions. Yet another lie. Yes, zero emissions when you are operating the fuel cell itself. What about the emissions involved in collecting and storing the hydrogen that this thing runs off of?

Oh, darn! Forgot to mention that, didn't they?
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:45 AM   #9
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TD, must be a chemical engineer, like me. And he is right. You feed 1,000 btu of petroleum gasses to a reformer and you make 500 BTU of hydrogen. the rest goes up the stack as greenhouse gasses.


And to those who say hydrogen can be made from solar power disassociating water to make hydrogen. Yes, but why not use that power in an electric vehicle directly rather than shipping, storing the hydrogen and then using it to feed a fuel cell, all of which uses up some of the energy.


The "hydrogen economy" is a pipe dream for these reasons.


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Actually I am a retired chemistry/geochemistry prof.
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:55 AM   #10
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Re: "...BIG tank of high pressure hydrogen..." I don't think it's necessary. There are a few hydrogen powered vehicles around.
https://www.ieee.ca/millennium/balla...lications.html
So they must produce and consume at the same time. No need for storage unless one stores the raw materials for hydrogen production...

Regarding emissions...The Ballard Fuel Cell -- General Information Says heat and water are the only by products.
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Old 10-06-2016, 11:26 AM   #11
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Those are hydrogen fuel cell applications. They still require a hydrogen source and everything I said applies. On top of that fuel cells are less efficient than hydrogen internal combustion engines. There are some fuel cells that run on methanol, but they produce carbon dioxide. If you go to the Ballard web page you can follow one of their links that discusses hydrogen sources which says more or less what I said about sources.
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Old 10-06-2016, 12:39 PM   #12
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TD is right.

Hydrogen does not occur freely in nature, that is, it cannot be mined like coal, oil or gas. It must be manufactured from something it is already bound to, like water or carbon.

It is the smallest molecule on the planet, that makes it easy to leak through almost any material, joint or around seals. I used to work with it in clean rooms and pollution control. It has very wide range of explosion limit, another hazard, though it does go "up" when it leaks. Still, I've been around a couple of H2 detonations in pipe, not fun.

What is water? It is di-hydrogen oxide, H2O, burnt hydrogen. To make hydrogen from water you have to "unburn" it. That takes easily twice as much energy as is returned when reburned to water. Add the energy to compress it (forget cryogenic liquidation unless you are building a rocket!), transport it and losses during handling/storage.

It is not a practical fuel for large scale transport, tanks are bulky and expensive, as is all the fittings and plumbing. The hype is that it is pollution-free, the reality is it just puts the pollution to manufacture it in somebody else's backyard.

And I agree it is wasteful to use electricity to hydrolyze water for H2, bad business plan. Just charge a battery. Electricity has to be manufactured too; using it to manufacture another fuel is very inefficient and wasteful.
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Old 10-06-2016, 01:45 PM   #13
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...And I agree it is wasteful to use electricity to hydrolyze water for H2, bad business plan. Just charge a battery. Electricity has to be manufactured too; using it to manufacture another fuel is very inefficient and wasteful.
Unless of course the electricity is 'manufactured' by utilizing water which is, as we speak, cascading 3000' down a steep mountainside with deep water immediately adjacent to the shore for the convenience of tying up ships.
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Old 10-06-2016, 01:49 PM   #14
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And I agree it is wasteful to use electricity to hydrolyze water for H2, bad business plan. Just charge a battery. Electricity has to be manufactured too; using it to manufacture another fuel is very inefficient and wasteful.
Fuel transport and storage was always the thing that gave me pause for hydrogen fuel cells.

I wonder though, would it be possible/practical to use local solar power to hydrolyze water for H2 and use that in a small fuel cell? I get that it is not terribly efficient, but how would that compare to the efficiency of using solar to store energy in a LA battery? My knowledge is limited to college level chemistry and physics, but that was 40+ years ago, so I am basically ignorant.
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Old 10-06-2016, 02:44 PM   #15
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Dave,
I'm a retired mech engineer, did a bunch of stuff: first-gen automated guided vehicles, mobile robots running on battery packs, HF reactors (hydrogen fluoride), etc. So I know enough to be dangerous!

IMHO, it is possible but not practical to go: Solar >> 12VDC>>hydrolyze H2O to O2 & H2>>compress H2 to 5000 psi for space efficiency and use at night>>regulate H2 to feed a fuel cell (which usually needs some additional chemistry to run too)>>12VDC out>>spin compressor on refrigerator to compress working fluid>>cool/expand working fluid to transfer heat from water >> makes ice for my cocktail.

Vs: 2 x 100Watt solar panels>>12VDC from regulator >> AGM wheelchair batteries >> run refrigerator. I have a friend with this setup on a van, it runs the 'fridge all year long, never needs "shorepower."

You can put a lot of batteries in the space that would be consumed by H2 tanks and compressor, on a boat space is valuable. Better energy density vs H2 tanks. The weight of batteries is not a big deal on trawlers vs. autos.

I learned some stuff making H2 stay in a special high amp switch body at 1000 psi. Everything matters on materials/finish/workmanship. And it would still permeate seals and leak! It can be a pesky molecule to harness!

Drop by some time when you're up north and we can discuss the future of all this stuff sometime over beverages cooled with frozen di-hydrogen oxide (burnt hydrogen)!
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Old 10-06-2016, 03:16 PM   #16
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Thanks for the overview. It does seem that there are too many transitions in a solar -> fuel cell system to be practical.
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Old 10-06-2016, 04:38 PM   #17
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I tend to agree that while the intentions are good, hydrogen fuel cells won't be practical unless we end up with an over abundant amount of base load solar electricity, and a shortage of portable fuels. With battery development moving very quickly, it seems the portable fuel situation may be taken care of this way.

In regard to powering ferries, I think compressed natural gas makes more sense. Big natural gas engines like Caterpillar G3516's run much cleaner than the equivalent diesel. They would require high pressure tanks (3000-3500 psi) for fuel storage, but for a ferry that could fuel up twice a day, the tank size would not need to be massive.
I would think the overall price would be within 5% of the cost of a diesel powered boat.
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Old 10-06-2016, 05:02 PM   #18
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Hydrogen fuel cells, and tank storage = bad news. On demand production will be better. I did ( few years ago) few experiments with producing parahydrogen and all comes to amount of amps. The other option would be ( not tested) to pizzo the water to a mist ( low power requirements) and the electrolize the mist with less amps.
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Old 10-06-2016, 05:50 PM   #19
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Greetings,
Mr. TD. Re: post #11. " They still require a hydrogen source" Isn't the hydrogen source on board in the form of a fuel cell which is converting methanol or whatever to hydrogen? Not meaning to be argumentative, just trying to understand.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell_bus

Granted, my very limited knowledge regarding hydrogen as a fuel is probably about 30 years old. I recall researchers using metal hydrides as storage medium. LONG time to "fill up" and LONG time to "empty".
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Old 10-06-2016, 07:02 PM   #20
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Nodest,
I was involved in similar experiments with misting and high voltage charging grids. We could make lots of ions (useful for pollution control), but not H2.

Water is such a simplistic and stable molecule, there is no easy low energy alternative reaction path/catalyst to dissociate it. Just as well, or the sun would've taken away our cruising grounds a long time ago!

A water to H2 catalyst would be a trillion dollar invention. Some smart guys at Stanford have come up with a nickle-iron cat that is efficient, but it gets consumed and is still in the lab. Maybe someday, but then you would still have to deal with H2 in the marine environment.

Trivia: the white flame coming off the headers of a top fuel dragster is hydrogen burning from the dissociated products of the high temp combustion of nitro-methane. The flame is so hot it dissociates moisture in the air around the flame and then it gets burned back to water.
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