Sandia researcher Joe Pratt stands near the Port of Oakland, one of the west coast ports he studied to learn whether hydrogen fuel cells are a viable power source for docked ships. (Photo by Steffan Schulz)

Hydrogen fuel cells are being used in a variety of ways to provide efficient, pollution-free power: mobile lighting systems, forklifts, emergency backup systems, and light-duty trucks, to name a few. Providing auxiliary power to ships in berth may be added to that list soon.

Joe Pratt (Energy Systems Engineering and Analysis Dept.) and Aaron Harris (Hydrogen and Combustion Technology Dept.) recently completed a study for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy that found hydrogen fuel cells may be both technically feasible and commercially attractive as a strategy for providing power to ships at berth and replacing on-board diesel generators.

Auxiliary power to stationary ships in port, usually provided by on-board diesel engines, is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, accounting for one-third to one-half of the in-port emissions attributed to ocean-going vessels. For a busy place like the Port of Los Angeles, those average daily emissions could exceed that of nearly 200,000 vehicles.

Read the rest of the article at the Combustion Research Facility website.