This is the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the US, representing a monumental step in the maritime industry’s transition to a sustainable future.

Prior to transfer to AAM, the project had begun at Bay Ship & Yacht shipyard in Alameda, CA where the aluminum hull and superstructure had been started.

The building of the e-ferry seeks to pave the way to commercialization for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell marine technologies, by exhibiting the viability of this marine technology for the commercial use.

We believe that hydrogen fuel cell technology will prove to be a robust alternative to conventional powertrain technologies,

...said Matt Mullett, AAM President & CEO.

Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine is the provider of the hydrogen fuel cell power package and also serves as technical and regulatory consultants on the project.

See also: Infographic: The fuels of the future

The vessel will use an onboard set of fuel cells arranged in compact stacks, similar to battery racks, which allows the onboard space to be used efficiently.

The fuel cells turn hydrogen into electricity by injecting hydrogen on one side and by supplying compressed ambient air on the other side of a proton exchange membrane (PEM fuel cell).

The hydrogen fuel storage is connected to the fuel cell powertrain, creating electricity to run the propulsion motors and turning the twin fixed-pitch propellers.

As such, fuel cell systems afford the same operational flexibility as diesel with zero emissions and less maintenance.

The project is funded by private capital from SW/TCH, an impact investment platform building the first fleet of zero-emissions maritime vessels. The platform seeks to work with existing ferry operators around the country to accelerate transition to zero emissions.

Partially, funding for this project comes also by a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, administered by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. This comes from the California Climate Investments initiative, a California statewide program boosting work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the economy, public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.