The California Air Resources Board (CARB) in the US has awarded a grant to Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine (GGZEM) to build the first US hydrogen fuel cell ferry named ‘Water-Go-Round’.

The $3m grant is provided to GGZEM and its partner in the shipbuilding project, and is expected to help solve the $330bn global maritime pollution problem.

GGZEM CEO Dr Joseph Pratt said: “Together, with our partners, we will show our communities there is a long-term solution to meeting the drastic cuts in pollution and greenhouse gases required by states like California and other governments around the globe.”

Water-Go-Round is designed by Incat Crowther and will be built by US-based company Bay Ship and Yacht.

The 70ft-long aluminium catamaran will be designed to cruise at a maximum speed of 22k.

To be powered by a pair of 300kW electric motors using independent electric drivetrains from BAE Systems, the ferry will underline the advantages of hydrogen fuel cells for the commercial maritime industry.

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“There is a long-term solution to meeting the drastic cuts in pollution and greenhouse gases.”

Water-Go-Round will also be equipped with 360kW of Hydrogenics proton exchange membrane fuel cells and Li-ion battery packs to generate power.

Hexagon Composites will provide hydrogen tanks, while OMB-Saleri will supply valves and hardware for the vessel. These solutions will be installed on the vessel’s upper deck and will contain enough hydrogen to allow the vessel to sail up to two days between refuellings.

GGZEM will provide a ‘zero infrastructure’ flexible fuelling arrangement to facilitate bunkering of the vessel at any place with truck access.

Scheduled to be launched next year, Water-Go-Round will operate for three months in San Francisco Bay, California.

During the operation, Sandia National Laboratories will collect and evaluate the vessel’s performance data.

CARB will use the real-world data to verify the suitability of the hydrogen fuel cell technology for marine use, while the partners of the project will collect feedback from passengers and operators to evaluate the best commercial markets.