UK consortium to develop fuel cell battery hybrid powerplant for light marine vessels

UK-based electrical integration specialists Hypermotive is to lead a consortium including EP Barrus and HPi-CEproof to develop a fuel cell battery hybrid powerplant for light marine vessels.  

Supported by recently awarded grant funding from the Niche Vehicle Network (NVN), the proof of concept programme builds on a previous successful technical and commercial feasibility study.

As previously reported by sister publication Bunkerspot, the 2019 Clean Maritime Plan sets out the aim that by 2050 all vessels in UK waters must be zero-emissions. 

To that end, Hypermotive has partnered with marine engine supplier Barrus to develop a hydrogen-powered zero-emissions powerplant to support the move towards zero emissions for the inland waterways market. Project partner HPi-CEproof, the UK’s only notified body licensed to certify small marine craft for the European market, will help ensure that the project meets the developing standards for marine electrification.

The project will be overseen by a steering committee of industrial stakeholders including BoC Linde (hydrogen gas), Beacon Park Boats and Mothership Marine.

Commenting on the project, Adam Huckstep, Managing Director at Hypermotive, said the group’s previous feasibility study work had shown a ‘good technical fit between the proposed fuel cell battery hybrid powerplant and the marine duty cycle’, and added that, ‘operationally’, the inland marine industry is already familiar with gaseous fuels.

‘We firmly believe fuel cells will play an important role in decarbonising our waterways,’ Huckstep said.

Tara Glen, Director at EP Barrus, noted that Barrus had been ‘involved with low-emission marine powerplants for a while’, in the form of diesel-electric hybrid systems and pure electric.

‘We are delighted to partner with Hypermotive who have expertise in fuel cells from other sectors and HPi-CEproof, with whom we have worked many times with respect to marine certification,’ said Glen.

Alasdair Reay, Managing Director at HPi-CEproof, highlighted the ‘many industries’ that are ‘increasingly adopting hydrogen as the fuel of the future’.

‘One of the perceived impediments to the industry adopting hydrogen is that the gas is not currently addressed in any boating standards and so there is no explicit compliance path to follow,’ said Reay.

‘HPi-CEproof, however, has formal accreditations to certify both boats and pressure equipment and using our knowledge from these areas, we look forward to ensuring the product that the project will realise, is compliant with the requirements of both the UK and EU markets.’

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry