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Zero Emission Industries Awarded $2 Million CEC Grant To Create a First-Of-Its-Kind Hydrogen Fuel Cell Boating Vessel

By April 27, 2021 9   min read  (1675 words)

April 27, 2021 |

Zero Emissions Industries

SAN FRANCISCO — Zero Emission Industries™ (ZEI), formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine is a groundbreaking Bay area startup focused on hydrogen technology.

The company announced today that it was awarded a $2 million grant by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to design, build and test a first-of-its-kind hydrogen fuel cell-powered small-fast harbor craft. To date, the startup has been awarded over $5 million in grants to bring its innovative hydrogen technology ideas to life.

ZEI, led by CEO Dr. Joseph Pratt, is made up of a team of world-renowned hydrogen experts with unique technological know-how and experience in the design, development, and deployment of hydrogen fuel cell power systems and other critical hydrogen technology. ZEI is best known for the Water-Go-Round ferry (now renamed by the vessel owner the Sea Change), the first commercial hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the United States. Construction has been completed on the vessel, and sea trials begin in summer 2021.

Dr. Joseph W. Pratt, CEO of ZEI said, “I’m proud of our team, thankful to our partners Ocean5, UC Irvine, and Watershed Innovation, and appreciate the trust given to us by the state to bring another innovative hydrogen-powered marine vessel to reality. This project exemplifies our approach at ZEI, which is to solve difficult challenges with hydrogen in ways that make it accessible for everyone. Though we have started with maritime products, our capabilities extend far beyond the water. Stay tuned as we continue to roll out exciting products that people will want to use.”

The project includes the development and integration of the most powerful operationally diverse zero-emission powertrain in maritime history. The powertrain will consist of a state-of-the-art hydrogen storage system, fuel cell package, power system, safety system, control and automation system allowing for a powertrain with increased range, simple maintenance, and no emissions.

The CEC grant will fund the deployment of ZEI’s portable refueling infrastructure, a technological breakthrough that will solve the fundamental challenge of refueling small boats safely and economically, a barrier that has hindered greater potential sales of hydrogen fuel cell vessels.

A small-fast zero-emission vessel solution will have a profound impact on the boating market, the economy, and air quality. California is home to over 1 million boats, and more than 98% of them are under 40 feet long. Vessels of that size have a wide variety of uses: patrol, fire/rescue, fishing, pilot, excursion, ferry/taxi, and recreation. Speed can range from a few knots to over 50 knots. There are, however, few, if any, viable zero-emission solutions for that market. Powering them with hydrogen fuel cells would eliminate a significant source of GHG emissions.

Danny Terlip, who left the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to join ZEI said, “This exciting project developing a hydrogen-powered boat and portable refueling solution will expand the emerging marine hydrogen market in meaningful ways. The work ZEI is doing is cutting edge, complex, impactful and frankly, this kind of work is why I joined the team.”

ZEI is partnering with world-class experts to achieve exceptional project results to bring their visions to fruition. Watershed Innovation, a division of Correct Craft, is working with ZEI to provide the boat hull set to be repowered with hydrogen. Watershed looks forward when providing solutions to the recreational maritime market. With an impressive catalog of environmentally conscious propulsion technologies, telematics solutions, and large-format 5 axil milling, Watershed Innovation will be essential in achieving project success.

John Motlow, Executive Vice President said, “We are very excited to be partnering with Watershed Innovation / Correct Craft as they are innovative market leaders with a long track record of bringing incredible boats to market. There are approximately 12 million registered recreational boats in the US. To date, the general opinion is that electrification of this market is extremely challenging, with some going as far as saying it is impossible. Where some see a prohibitive challenge, we see opportunity. Through this partnership, ZEI and Watershed Innovation will be able to successfully demonstrate to the industry and the world a functional real-world solution for the electrification of all types of small fast boats.”

Sean Marrero, President of Watershed Innovation said, “At Watershed Innovation, our focus is on creating a better tomorrow today for boaters and for the world around us. From a sustainability perspective, different use cases require different solutions. We cannot be an expert in all of them, and that is why we work with others. When it comes to hydrogen, Joe and the team at ZEI share our vision for a higher purpose and our passion for solving problems. We are excited to be working with them on this groundbreaking project.”

ZEI has partnered with the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California Irvine, which will collect and process project, vessel, and system data to provide clear, unbiased conclusions regarding the performance and usage of the hydrogen systems. The data collected from this project will inform the most effective path toward eliminating maritime emissions for the small fast vessel market.

Dr Jeffrey Reed, Chief Scientist for Renewable Fuels and Energy Storage said, “The UC Irvine Advanced Power and Energy Program is very pleased to be part of this landmark project. The project is an important addition to our extensive program of research on low-carbon fuels and advances hydrogen as a solution for maritime applications, one of the most promising applications for this clean fuel.”

Another project partner, Ocean5 Naval Architects, will utilize vessel design, surfacing, hydrostatic analysis, and 3D modeling tools to enable optimum design for everything from the vessel hull to the onboard structures. With experience in the first implementation on a variety of vessel types and sizes, Ocean5 will ensure the collaboration of the hydrogen system’s operational profile with the structural design of the small fast boat.

John Canada, President of Ocean5 explains, “The power density of batteries makes high speed over extended durations a challenge. Based on the fundamentals of weight and power with clean energy, propulsion systems are aligned on a path with hydrogen fuel cell evolution. Together with Golden Gate and Correct Craft, we’ve assembled the most qualified team to bring the future of boating to market.”

SoCalGas, the Los Angeles-based utility company, is contributing $200,000 in funding for the project. The organization has committed to providing a carbon-neutral ecosystem for its operations and delivery of energy as well as support reductions of emissions generated by its customers. SoCalGas is demonstrating this commitment by advancing numerous low- and zero-carbon energy technologies including a hydrogen blending demonstration program, a solar energy-produced hydrogen program, and a joint natural gas and hydrogen distribution system.

Neil Navin, Vice President of clean energy innovations at SoCalGas stated, “SoCalGas is committed to helping California reach its climate goals, and we look at how we can assist in reducing GHG emissions in every possible sector. We recently announced our pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, and our work with ZEI to develop fuel cell technology for commercial boats helps demonstrate this commitment. This innovative technology has the potential to greatly decrease air and climate pollution in California.” 

California has once again tapped the ZEI team to lead the charge in the development and deployment of real-world zero-emission solutions for important yet challenging and critically underserved markets. Transforming from the bay-area maritime-centric title (GGZEM), Zero Emission Industries hopes to rewrite its image into a global, multi-industry hydrogen solution provider.  The name change reflects where the company is going and is a sign of its commitment to its world-changing technology.

About Zero Emission Industries™:
Zero Emission IndustriesTM, formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine, launched in 2017, is a cutting-edge hydrogen technology company that develops and sells power systems for a range of applications. In 2018, the company received a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to build the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the United States, the Water-Go-Round. For more information go to zeroei.com

About Watershed Innovation:
Founded in 2018, Watershed Innovation, a division of Correct Craft, is focused on creating a better tomorrow today for boaters and for the planet. Watershed’s work is strategically aligned with Correct Craft’s culture of “Making Life Better.”  For more information please visit www.watershedinnovation.com.

About Ocean5 Naval Architects:
Ocean5 Naval Architects has been leading the way in the integration of new technologies relating to yachts and pleasure craft since its inception in 2007. Ocean5’s designers and engineers continue to be at the forefront of solutions for hull designs, structures, and performance. Whether designing 70′ custom sportfish yachts with top speeds over 50 knots using wake-adapted running gear, or 165′ triple engine mega yachts with zero speed gyro stabilization, their team is often involved in the first implementation. Ocean5 Inc., and its affiliate company Torx Marine (provider of extruded gyro foundations & SciGrip methacrylate adhesives), have their offices located in Manatee Pocket, Stuart, FL. For more information visit www.ocean5.com.

About Advanced Power and Energy Program:
APEP addresses the broad utilization of energy resources and the emerging connection of electric power generation, infrastructure, transportation, water resources, and the environment. It seeks to develop, promote, and deploy increasingly efficient and environmentally sustainable power production and energy conversion worldwide, with a focus on the creation and sharing of new knowledge through fundamental and applied research, education, and outreach.

About University of California, Irvine (UCI): 
Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation, and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

About the California Energy Commission  
The CEC is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, and preparing for energy emergencies.

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