Young Brothers, Ltd. to Test Maritime Unit at Port of Honolulu

Can clean, sustainable hydrogen power reduce the concentration of emissions produced at commercial ports? The US Department of Energy (DOE), the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD), and Sandia National Laboratories are leading a hydrogen fuel cell deployment project in Hawaii to answer that question.

The project will test the feasibility of replacing diesel generators with hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered generators. Because hydrogen fuel cells produce zero pollutant emissions and no greenhouse gases at the point of use, this technology could enable major commercial ports and marine vessels to lessen their environmental impacts.

“This effort will provide critical information about the commercial viability of hydrogen fuel cell technology in maritime environments,” said Joe Pratt (in Sandia’s Energy Innovation Dept.), the project lead for Sandia. “This project is a stepping stone for widespread use.”

Unit Passes Factory Acceptance Testing

Containerized hydrogen fuel cell generator prototype for the Maritime Fuel Cell Project designed and built by Hydrogenics.

Containerized hydrogen fuel cell generator prototype for the Maritime Fuel Cell Project designed and built by Hydrogenics.

The hydrogen fuel cell generator unit consists of four 30-kilowatt fuel cells, a hydrogen storage system, and power-conversion equipment packaged in a 20-foot shipping container. Designed and built by Hydrogenics Corp., the unit recently passed factory acceptance testing at the Hydrogenics Canada facility in Mississauga, Ontario.

“The factory acceptance test demonstrated that all systems have met our quality standards. We are confident in the unit’s ability to meet the demands of this unique deployment. Hydrogen fuel cells are fairly common, but not in maritime environments,” said Hydrogenics project manager Nader Zaag. “Hydrogenics is providing an innovative solution by applying fuel cell technology to an emerging market.”

At Honolulu Harbor, Sandia and Hydrogenics will deliver the unit to Young Brothers, Limited for the project’s deployment phase in Hawaii. Young Brothers, a subsidiary of Foss Maritime Co., is Hawaii’s leading interisland freight and transportation company, delivering cargo among all major Hawaiian Islands.

“We are proud to be the first host in the country for this unit and are looking forward to demonstrating this hydrogen fuel cell technology,” said Young Brothers President Glenn Hong. “Environmental stewardship is a core value at Young Brothers, and we strongly support clean-energy initiatives such as this project.”

Ruslan Kosyan, Hydrogenics Project Engineer (right), shows Joe Pratt, Sandia Project Manager (left), the hydrogen storage system within the fuel cell unit.

Ruslan Kosyan, Hydrogenics Project Engineer (right), shows Joe Pratt, Sandia Project Manager (left), the hydrogen storage system within the fuel cell unit.

Young Brothers will first deploy the prototype onshore at its Port of Honolulu; later, the unit will be used on an interisland transport barge. In both cases, the fuel-cell unit will provide power so that refrigerated containers can keep their perishable contents cold throughout the journey. In preparation for the unit’s arrival and deployment, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory provided hydrogen-familiarity and first-responder training to more than 200 first responders, Young Brothers personnel and other local stakeholders.

Other partners include the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies, the US Coast Guard and its local Sector Honolulu office, the Hydrogen Safety Review Panel, and the American Bureau of Shipping.

This hydrogen fuel cell deployment project, which is cofunded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and MARAD’s Office of Environment and Compliance, is an example of innovative market transformation efforts underway to demonstrate early markets for cutting-edge, clean-energy technologies.