Sandia National Laboratories has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with San Francisco-based Red and White Fleet for an environmental sustainability project.
Dubbed San Francisco bay renewable energy electric vessel with zero emissions (SF-BREEZE), the project is aimed at designing, building and operating a high-speed hydrogen fuel cell passenger ferry and hydrogen refuelling station.
A feasibility study intended to examine the technical, regulatory and economic aspects of the project is being funded by the US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD).
MARA maritime administrator Paul 'Chip' Jaenichen said: "The Maritime Administration is committed to finding new and efficient technologies for use in the maritime industry that reduce pollution and protect our environment.
"This industry continues moving forward on renewable energy and clean-fuel options, and this project encourages a shift toward lower impact maritime fuels that may further green the waterborne link in our national transportation system."
According to Sandia, hydrogen fuel cells offer no harmful exhaust emissions, enable higher energy efficiency, quiet operation and no risk of fuel spills.
The use of hydrogen fuel cells over diesel engines and generators will result in improved air and water quality in harbour areas.
Meanwhile, the hydrogen refuelling station will also serve fuel cell electric cars, buses and fleet vehicles along with the ferry and other maritime vehicles.
Planned to be the largest in the world, the station would have a capacity of 1,500kg a day.
For the study, Sandia will also collaborate with the American Bureau of Shipping, the US Coast Guard and naval architect Elliott Bay Design Group.
Image: The new partnership will see the development of a high-speed, hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered passenger ferry and refuelling station. Photo: courtesy of Red and White Fleet.