World’s first hydrogen-electric boat powered by PCBFC wraps up real-world testing

UK technology company Bramble Energy has completed real-world testing of the world’s first hydrogen-electric boat powered by a printed circuit board fuel cell (PCBFC).

Bramble Energy

As informed, the 17-meter vessel was launched onto the water in Sheffield, Yorkshire, where it has completed testing, emissions-free, using a marinized fuel cell system. The fuel cell system has the potential to provide the vessel with approximately 600 miles of range using the 14 kg of hydrogen stored on-board, as well as additional power being supplied from solar panels on the boat’s roof to the 22kWh battery system, according to Bramble Energy.

In cooperation with engine builder Barrus, the UK tech firm has created a demonstration vessel that showcases the vast potential of its PCBFC technology. The hydrogen-powered narrowboat will now begin a testing program on UK inland waterways with data collected helping Bramble develop future marine PCBFCs.

Further on, the Bramble Energy team will analyze the boat’s data along with vital information about the fuel cell’s performance under real-world conditions. This analysis is expected to support the future development of PCBFC systems for wider maritime applications.

According to Bramble Energy, the boat has the potential to save each boat using this powertrain technology up to 12 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The vessel, which has been built from the ground up, has been under construction in Sheffield.

“While road transportation has arguably had the greatest amount of attention in terms of developing zero-emission solutions, the reality is there is a massive urgency to decarbonise across all transportation sectors – especially marine. CO2 emissions from the marine sector are staggering,” Tom Mason, co-founder and CEO of Bramble Energy commented.

“Our solution has the ability to meet a range of power needs and is easily scalable, which is the exact catalyst the industry needs to make a seamless shift to hydrogen to quickly meet emissions regulations and contribute to greener and cleaner waterways.”

In 2022, Bramble Energy was awarded Government funding from BEIS, now the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), of under £1 million to develop its hydrogen fuel cell technology as a solution to replace diesel engines in boats. The integration and deployment of the technology represent the successful completion of the project between the partners.

The global maritime sector contributes to 940 million tonnes of CO2 per year, equating to approximately 2.5% of global greenhouse gases. As such, the Clean Maritime Plan requires new vessels to be zero-emission capable from 2025.

The project’s goal was to demonstrate how the shift to a hydrogen fuel source could help the transition thanks to providing a range extender to pure battery systems but also to remove the reliance on a charging base.

In 2022, Bramble Energy cooperated with SEA-KIT International on the design of a hydrogen-powered, zero-emission uncrewed surface vessel (USV). The project received funding through the second round of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC).

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