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Hokulani-Kaholo

Sandia Team Building Hydrogen Fuel Cell Unit

Hokulani-KaholoA new fuel cell technology demonstration project led by Sandia National Laboratories will be deployed to the Port of Honolulu by 2015 to show how the portable unit can lower emissions and reduce energy consumption.

The unit will fit inside a 20-foot shipping container and will consist of four 30-kilowatt fuel cells, a hydrogen storage system and power conversion equipment. Once the system is built, it will be delivered and deployed by Young Brothers (pictured), one of the project partners and a primary shipper of goods throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

The self-contained hydrogen fuel cell unit can float on a barge or sit on a dock and can be transported to any location that requires a electricity. The unit will go through an engineering and design phase through mid-2014. After fabrication, assembly and training for Young Brothers operators, the unit will be operational during a six-month deployment in early 2015.

Once the six-month test of the fuel cell system is complete, the Sandia team will analyze the project’s successes and challenges, including the operating and cost parameters needed to make it commercially viable at other ports. The long-term goal is to develop a commercial-ready technology that can be used at other ports, said Sandia project manager Joe Pratt.

The project is jointly sponsored by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and by the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

The demonstration project follows a study last year that confirmed the viability of hydrogen fuel cells to provide auxiliary power to docked or anchored ships.

Ports are a major source of water and air pollution in the US, but have remained relatively unregulated until recently, according to Sandia. Many ports have started to enact sustainability goals or adopt green practices as their impact on the environment has become more apparent.

In Canada, two of the country’s largest west coast ports are offering financial incentives to the most efficient vessels that enter.

Port Metro Vancouver’s Eco-Action program and Prince Rupert Port Authority’s (PRPA’s) Green Wave program will reward ship owners based on the Carbon War Room’s A to G Greenhouse Gas Emissions rating, which benchmarks the energy efficiency of shipping fleets.

The Canadian ports are the first in the world to use the A to G rating system, says Carbon War Room founder Richard Branson.

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