Nothing but water: Hydrogen fuel cell unit to provide renewable power to Honolulu port

02-Sep-2015 - USA

A new chapter in clean energy is starting in Hawaii. At Young Brothers Ltd.'s Port of Honolulu facility, Sandia National Laboratories is leading the Maritime hydrogen fuel Cell project to test a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered generator as an alternative to conventional diesel generators.

The project kickoff is being marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Young Brothers President Glenn Hong and Sandia California Vice President Marianne Walck.

"Today, we take another big step in transforming our nation to a clean energy economy," said Schatz. "The fuel cell technology being deployed today will one day mean less carbon pollution in our ports and on the high seas. The great work from all the partners involved, especially Young Brothers, is helping lead the way to a cleaner, more energy-efficient future."

Hydrogen more efficient than diesel

Planning for the Maritime Hydrogen Fuel Cell project began in late 2012 with a study that determined that hydrogen fuel cells could replace diesel generators in providing auxiliary power on board and to ships at berth. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration are funding the six-month deployment of the hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered generator.

"At the point of use, hydrogen fuel cells produce nothing but water - zero pollutant emissions and no greenhouse gases," said Joe Pratt, Sandia's project lead. "This technology could enable major commercial ports and marine vessels to lessen their environmental impacts."

Hydrogenics Corp. designed and built the hydrogen fuel cell generator unit, comprised of four 30-kilowatt fuel cells, a hydrogen storage system and power-conversion equipment, all packaged in a 20-foot shipping container. With 75 kilograms of on-board hydrogen storage, the generator has enough energy to power 10 refrigerated containers for 20 continuous hours of operation.

Clean power at the Port of Honolulu

The unit already is providing power to refrigerated containers on shore. Soon it will begin powering the same refrigerated containers on Young Brothers' barges that distribute goods to Hawaii's other islands. Young Brothers is a subsidiary of Foss Maritime Co.

"Young Brothers will be testing and demonstrating this technology on our on-shore and ocean environments over the next six months," said Hong. "We are very pleased to have been selected to participate in this project with our many national and international partners in expanding this clean technology into new applications."

Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu is supplying the hydrogen to power the fuel cell. The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis, using electricity supplied by Hickam's solar-powered electrical grid.

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