Introducing the world's first hydrogen-powered ferry

Hydrogen-powered ferries that can carry 75 passengers are environmentally friendly, which can help save the planet from the ill effects of climate change.

Picture 1 of Introducing the world's first hydrogen-powered ferry
Hydrogen-powered ferries help protect the environment by not emitting CO 2 . (Photo: CBS)

For more than a decade, local residents have sailed around San Francisco Bay on ferries that run mainly on diesel, the fossil fuel that contributes to global warming. But now, the world's first zero-emissions hydrogen-powered passenger ferry is in service in the bay.

Instead of using a large diesel engine to generate power, the vehicle uses a hydrogen fuel cell, said Jeff Sokolik, an employee of All American Marine in Bellingham, Washington, which builds the 75-passenger ferry. "When you use hydrogen to generate electricity, the only by-product is hot water, the vehicle is zero-emissions and completely clean," said Ron Willie, company director.

The shipping industry, mainly international waterways, is one of the causes of climate change. This industry wastes approximately 3% of total carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) globally, more than the airline industry. A much larger hydrogen passenger ferry is being built in Europe, and the technology has potential applications to container ships. However, if hydrogen leaks during production or from the reservoir, the failure could contribute to global warming.

"There are expectations and promises around hydrogen fuel, but to protect the climate, we need to understand the risk of leaks , " said Amanda Leland, executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund.