ABB to Power First Hydrogen-Powered Vessel


ABB, a provider of digital technologies and solutions, has announced that it will provide a power and propulsion solution for the world’s first hydrogen-powered river vessel.

The push boat, due for delivery to Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT) in 2021, will operate emission-free along the Rhône river in France.

According to a statement, participating in the EU-funded FLAGSHIPS project – which aims to introduce commercially operated zero-emission vessels – has strengthened ABB’s position as a market “frontrunner” on hydrogen fuel cell technology.

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Peter Terwiesch, President of the Industrial Automation business at ABB, said: “Taking an active role in the FLAGSHIPS initiative, ABB continues to push the boundaries of e-mobility in shipping.

“As one of the world’s leading enablers of sustainable transportation, ABB is committed to writing the future of the marine industry that will see vessels plying the world’s waters more cleanly and efficiently.”


Concept illustration of a push boat powered by fuel cell system (Credit: ABB)


Since becoming a FLAGSHIPS member, ABB has worked in collaboration with Finnish research organization VTT and clean energy solutions provider Ballard Power Systems Europe to enable a 400-kilowatt (kW) fuel cell to power a vessel.

The objective of the project is to demonstrate that fuel cells are a practical and deliverable propulsion solution for owners and builders of mid-sized vessels carrying more than 100 passengers or an equivalent freight volume.

Uno Bryfors, ABB, discusses transforming terminals in the “mega-age” in a recent Port Technology technical paper

Once the fuel cell power plant for the ship has been fitted, it will run daily to test which refuelling procedures are needed and provide insights into optimizing the refuelling infrastructure.

Matthieu Blanc, COO at CFT, also commented: “CFT has been an inland waterways innovator for more than half a century. Powering river transport in a sustainable way is a new type of challenge, but it has become vital that we cut emissions on Europe’s inland waterways and specifically in the city centers.

“With this project, we aim to highlight that emission-free operation is both feasible and commercially viable.”

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