Normally, CleanTechnica does not report on the development of hydrogen fuel cells for two reasons. First, the hydrogen used is often obtained from methane. This so-called “blue hydrogen” is a hoax promoted by fossil fuel companies so they can lie to their shareholders and the public about all the wonderful things they are doing to save the planet while continuing to pillage the Earth for profit. Second, if personal vehicles are the subject, it is generally more efficient to power them only with batteries rather than fuel cells, which require many energy conversions before any progress is actually made.
However, we are willing to make an exception if heavy vehicles such as passenger ferries and mining trucks are the subject, especially if they are powered by “green hydrogen” that comes from water electrolysis rather than methane reforming.
Fast ferries for Norway powered by fuel cells
The Norwegian company Teco 2030 leads the consortium, which includes Umoe Mandal, whose expertise is in light ships made of composite materials, and Blom Maritime, which specializes in marine structures for offshore commercial enterprises. Funded by a €500,000 grant from the Norwegian government, they will work together to develop high-speed hydrogen-powered ships, including fast ferries that can carry up to 300 passengers at speeds of up to 35 knots over long distances.
According to Electric, the consortium plans to select a builder for its fuel cell-powered ships by the end of 2023, with sea trials expected in 2025. The first ship will use the fuel cell system from Teco 2030, powered by an energy-efficient catamaran. Umoe Mandal has already built several such ships for the Norwegian Navy, but this will be their first powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
“We are humbled and proud to be qualified to develop the Teco 2030 high-speed ship of the future, powered by hydrogen and fuel cells,” says Teco CEO Tore Enger. “This demonstrates our ability to lead advanced ship development and design retrofits or new builds through our maritime experience.”
“Umoe Mandal has over 30 years of experience in delivering light and energy efficient ships based on [high speed catamaran] technique. This includes the world’s fastest combat ship, the Skjold-class corvette and the Wavecraft CTV series for the offshore wind market,” says Tom Harald Svennevig, CEO of Umoe Mandal. “We are excited about this opportunity to develop and approve a hydrogen-powered version of our zero-emissions vessels”
Teco 2030 is building Norway’s first “gigafactory” for fuel cells for use in ships in Narvik, northern Norway. A development center will accompany the fuel cell factory, which should start operating later this year. The EU has increased its green hydrogen targets in light of the current European energy crisis, while the EU Council has recently targeted the maritime sector to reduce CO2 limits.
Fuel cell mining trucks from Cummins & Komatsu
Cummins has a worldwide reputation for producing diesel engines that power medium- and heavy-duty trucks and industrial equipment. During their work, these engines spew an incredible amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the exhaust pipe. Komatsu makes some of the largest mining trucks on the planet, many of which are equipped with diesel engines. Now, Cummins and Komatsu have agreed to work together to find ways to make some of these giant mining trucks and other industrial equipment carbon-free by replacing their diesel engines with hydrogen fuel cells.
Electric reports that Komatsu and several of its mining industry customers formed the Komatsu Greenhouse Gas Alliance last year to promote electrification in the sector through joint development work. The first goal of the alliance is to develop an existing Komatsu concept that will be able to work with a variety of power sources, including a diesel-electric hybrid drive, external power lines, a battery pack or a hydrogen fuel cell.
“Komatsu’s deep expertise in mining and equipment design and integration, coupled with our advanced energy technologies including hydrogen fuel cells, will accelerate the decarbonization of mining equipment,” said Amy Davis, vice president and president of New Power at Cummins. “The mining industry has great potential to become a leader in adopting renewable solutions.”
As a leading independent power provider in the mining segment, Cummins recognizes the importance of providing our customers with reliable, quality products that can withstand the harshest environments. Cummins has a broad portfolio of batteries, fuel cell systems and electrolysers for hydrogen generation, which are key building blocks for decarbonisation. Together, the two companies have a long history in the global mining market and the strong technical capabilities necessary to develop these new solutions.
As a company, Komatsu is committed to minimizing its impact on the environment and aims to reduce carbon emissions from the production and use of its products by 50% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. The collaboration with Komatsu is part of Cummins’ Destination Zero strategy, which aims to reduce the greenhouse gas and air quality impacts of its products and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This commitment requires changes to Cummins products and the energy sources that power them.
Electric points out that hydrogen fuel cell solutions also offer particular advantages. At the recent Reuters the Fortescue Metals hydrogen conference stated that hydrogen infrastructure can be built to known loads and distances for immediate use in mining operations and that hydrogen systems work well in remote situations where grid power is not available. In addition, hydrogen fuel cells provide greater power density for extra-large vehicles and can be refueled in minutes, which is beneficial for vehicles that companies like to keep running 24/7. Some of these vehicles operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Green hydrogen has many important uses. It can reduce or eliminate carbon emissions that arise from steel or cement production. If it can reduce emissions from shipping and mining equipment, that’s welcome news indeed.
We hear a lot about how dirty mining is these days from people fighting against EVs. It is true that extracting nickel, lithium, cobalt, manganese and many of the rare earth minerals used in electric motors from the Earth causes significant carbon emissions and damages the soil around the mines.
Yet those same snowflakes have never uttered even a hint of protest about the horrors of Alberta’s tar sands, the environmental and social destruction of pipelines, the unimaginable pollution caused by coal-fired sludge ponds, or the practice of strip mining that rips off mountaintops and dumps them into the valleys below.
Such abuse of the Earth is perfectly acceptable to fossil fuel advocates because, hey, people have to drive huge cars and trucks, right? They are sure that the Bible, the Constitution or somewhere else says so. But pollution and commerce go hand in hand. If fuel cells powered by green hydrogen can reduce emissions from mining and offshore vessels, we’re all for it.
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