Hydrogen ship latest effort in greener transport

Updated: Oct 17, 2023 By ZHAO LEI in Fuzhou China Daily Print
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The latest achievement in China's push for more green transport was made by China's shipbuilding industry last week with the commissioning of the country's first hydrogen-powered ship.

Three Gorges Hydrogen Boat 1 sailed on its maiden voyage, which was a short ceremonial trip on the Yichang section of the Yangtze River in Hubei province, and was then delivered to its operator, China Yangtze Power, a State-owned hydropower company.

The electric catamaran was developed by China Three Gorges Corp, China State Shipbuilding Corp's 712th Institute, the Three Gorges Navigation Authority and the Wuhan Changjiang Ship Design Institute.

The 712th Institute, established in 1963, is the only developer of hydrogen and electric power systems in China's shipbuilding industry. It designed and manufactured the new vessel's hydrogen fuel cell equipment.

"Compared with other types of ships, a hydrogen-powered vessel is friendlier to the environment, has much lower noise, and thus is more comfortable," said Liang Zhexing, an engineer at the institute involved in the ship's research and development.

Considering factors like the country's energy security and environmental protection, hydrogen energy will undoubtedly become an ideal option for green ships, according to the engineer.

He said the new boat can save as much as 103 metric tons of fuel oil and reduce the emission of about 344 tons of carbon dioxide each year compared to a conventional vessel.

"Three Gorges Hydrogen Boat 1's operation will provide theoretical and data support for the subsequent promotion of hydrogen fuel-cell vessels in China. It will also provide an important platform for the testing and experimentation of following ships," Liang said.

He added that thanks to new technology and techniques, the production, storage and transportation of hydrogen are becoming cheaper and more convenient, allowing for the large-scale application on transport vehicles.

He was speaking on Friday on the sidelines of the four-day China Marine Equipment Expo 2023 in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province. The expo concluded on Sunday.

According to the institute, Three Gorges Hydrogen Boat 1 is tasked with transporting passengers, making patrols as well as helping in emergency response. Its operational zones are the Three Gorges Reservoir area and the Yangtze River section between the Three Gorges Dam and the Gezhouba Dam.

The contract for the ship was signed in June 2021 and construction began in May last year at Jianglong Shipbuilding in Zhongshan, Guangdong province. The vessel's main frame was completed in March and then it continued to be mounted with equipment and carried out trial operations.

Three Gorges Hydrogen Boat 1 is 49.9 meters long, 10.4 meters wide and can accommodate 80 passengers and crew.

It can reach a maximum speed of 28 kilometers per hour and can travel about 200 km when sailing at a cruising speed of 20 km/h.

China is striving to make its transport sector more environmentally friendly in order to achieve green growth. Hydrogen fuel cells, a popular choice for clean-energy vehicles, have been listed by the government as one of its priorities for research and investment.

China has built tens of thousands of hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars and aviation engineers are researching hydrogen-powered electric aircraft.

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