Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Coast Guard Ships Could Incorporate Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Coast Guard Ships Could Incorporate Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

Article excerpt

Coast guard may get hydrogen fuel cells


HALIFAX - The federal government has issued a tender calling for the design of low-emission Canadian Coast Guard ships that would incorporate hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The three offshore fisheries science vessels are intended to replace four aging coast guard ships and would be stationed on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They are part of the fleet under Ottawa's $33-billion national shipbuilding procurement announced last year.

The tender said the government plans to spend about $332,000 to look into integrating hydrogen fuel cell technology into the new ships, which would be constructed at the Seaspan Marine Corp. shipyard in Vancouver.

Zuomin Dong, a professor in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Victoria, lauded the move as a great step for marine technology in Canada.

"Hybrid technology is for sure, no doubt beneficial," said Dong in an interview.

When compared to a traditional vessel, fuel cells have significantly lower emissions, improved fuel economy and produce less noise, the tender said.

Dong said when vessels are cruising at sea, diesel engines are highly efficient. However, when the ship glides into port, the engines are not operating at full power and their efficiency can drop to less than 50 per cent, he said.

"The emissions can double or triple. It just goes up and up."

Fuel cells, which continuously convert hydrogen fuel into electricity, have made a mark in the automotive industry, but have yet to break into the commercial marine sector.

"Canada is the leading nation in hydrogen fuel cell technology," said Dong.

"To apply it to marine ... you open the market, open a new window of commercial opportunities to this industry."

The Public Works contract proposes a hybrid fuel cell and diesel electric propulsion system to power the ships. …

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