Our Friends, Family, Environment, Wildlife, and Planet are all suffering from the unbelievable amount of emissions that marine vessels are releasing into our atmosphere and ecosystems.
If the shipping industry were a country, it would rank as the 6th largest contributor to greenhouse gasses in the world. With 3% of global greenhouse gasses, 18 to 30% nitrogen oxide, and 9% sulfur oxides coming from maritime it is essential we put systems in place to limit or completely end our contribution to deadly pollutants.
Every year 8.8 million premature deaths are caused by health conditions related to air pollution. In the US, marine transportation emissions alone take an average of 1,200 lives every year. That is the equivalent of undergoing the atrocities of 9/11 every 30 months. In addition to premature death, large amounts of pollution can lead to lung cancer, chronic heart disease, and asthma which is disproportionately found in communities near ports. It is important we work toward solving our emissions problem or people, especially those in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, will suffer.
Emissions from maritime can have a lasting impact on the ecosystems they travel through. Disasters like oil spills contaminate the waters essential to aquatic life with toxic waste lasting years in the sediment and marine environment. Daily activity results in atmospheric pollution, waste, and sound pollution which continuously threatens wildlife. If we want to preserve our planet's fragile aquatic ecosystems it is imperative zero emission solutions are implemented.
In order to clean up maritime it's essential we transition to fully electrified systems that produce zero emissions. The primary way we electrify power systems today is through the use of batteries. While there are great examples of effective battery use, maritime can in no way be one of those examples. Batteries scale in a linear manner, if you want more power or range you add more batteries. This approach quickly becomes null and void in an application that is so dependent on effective use of weight and volume, not to mention the downtime needed to recharge batteries.
The only proven technology that can bring an end to maritime emissions forever.
With the most abundant element in the universe as a fuel, hydrogen fuel cells silently generate power while emitting nothing more than heat energy and pure H2O so clean you can drink it.
Fuel cell power systems boast zero emission benefits that are essential in building a sustainable future while providing the flexibility necessary to support the fast fueling and extended ranges necessary for the aggressive operating schedules present in the marine market.
Today, hydrogen power systems can be found providing sustainable energy for a multitude of applications including light duty cars, construction equipment, mining equipment, buses, forklifts, heavy duty trucks, ferries, and more. The technology is proven but costs associated with operating fuel cell systems and the need for hydrogen experts to design, implement, and maintain the system remain as significant barriers. (The good news: We are solving this!)
Fuel cell power systems live at the intersection of battery's zero emission electrification advantages and the operational benefits that come with traditional combustion engines. What do we mean by that? Fuel cells are quiet and have no moving parts like a battery so it runs silently, it is also much more reliable than a combustion engine. Fuel cells are like regular gasoline engines in that they can be fueled up in minutes and have fuel storage that can change in size independent from power production.
And did we mention they produce no emissions, just drinkable water and heat energy?!
What Are They Used For? Fuel Cells output electricity which means you can use it to power anything you typically power with a battery or by plugging into an outlet. Today, fuel cells are used all over the world to power cars like the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo. These cars use electric motors like those seen on battery electric vehicles. Fuel cells can also be used to power smaller devices like a phone or a laptop, even to charge the batteries we currently have on those devices. Fuel cells can be scaled up to power huge things like a cruise ship's lights, air conditioning, outlets, TV's, powertrain and more... all at the same time! Today, fuel cells are typically found in more heavy duty use cases but as we get more comfortable with them and continue to make technological advancements, their use will only grow!
What Are They? Fuel cell power systems are comprised of 3 primary components - the fuel cell stack, the balance of plant, and the hydrogen storage system. The heart of the fuel cell power system is the fuel cell stack. There are many different kind of fuel cells but the most common is a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM). PEM fuel cells generate electricity from hydrogen in the form of direct current (DC) from electrochemical reactions. Hydrogen enters a fuel cell and electrochemically bonds with an oxygen molecule to create H2O, also known as water! Power from electrons are collected in a circuit that gives you electricity (see below for more detail). The balance of plant is what makes the whole thing run. It is different on each fuel cell and can include many different components or software but for the most part, its job is to make sure hydrogen stays flowing in and electricity gets packaged and sent where it needs to. The hydrogen storage system is pretty self-explanatory, it's what holds all of your hydrogen fuel! It can store hydrogen in many ways: multiple pressures as a gas, as a liquid, even inside of organic compounds call LOHCs! Many creative engineers are developing new technologies for storing and transferring hydrogen all around the world!
Fuel cell power systems are a great way to electrify end uses where batteries don't make sense. It can be advantageous to use them in tandem but for applications like marine where weight, size, and downtime are extremely important factors, batteries alone won't quite do it.
How Do You Get a Fuel Cell Power System? Today, electrifying with fuel cell power systems, whether that be for commercial or personal use, can be an extremely complicated process. ZEI studied the steps needed to simply design and install (not operate or maintain!) a complete fuel cell power system from components available in today’s fuel cell market. The team found no less than 65 different areas of engineering and assembly effort and 11 areas of specific technical expertise not normally found in a shipyard or off-road equipment shop that are required to take a functional module and make it work in the end use of choice. This lack of access to hydrogen fuel cell power is a distinct barrier to achieving widespread adoption that Zero Emission Industries is solving right now.
How Do We Help?: Zero Emission Industries is developing the world's first simplified turnkey, plug-and-play hydrogen fuel cell power system. This complete system is designed around achieving high power in a compact and lightweight frame at reduced cost. Packaged with the safety and simplicity to be installed and operated by non hydrogen experts, our system makes it extremely simple and fast to adopt and implementing hydrogen fuel cell power today. In addition, our system is modular and scalable, allowing for flexible configurations across many power ranges and fuel storage options for a variety of use cases.
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