The demand for more sustainable inland water transport technologies is growing, so we will increasingly see solutions similar to the one just unveiled in France.
Hydrogen is often called the fuel of the future because of its environmental potential, and we’re hearing more and more about projects using it – Toyota has launched zero-emission hydrogen production and its first charging station in Australia, the Swedes are preparing to open the world’s largest hydrogen steel factory, the Scots are testing hydrogen in domestic applications, and Microsoft has been testing powering its data centers with hydrogen fuel cells. And now there’s another, as a French company develops the world’s first hydrogen-powered cargo ship, due to set sail later this year.
Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT), as the conglomerate is called, has just announced that the ship will be launched on the Seine and will use compressed hydrogen produced by electrolysis for power. Interestingly, however, the ship will not go to ocean waters, as it is designed only for inland traffic, as a response to the ever-growing demand for greener transportation systems of this type: – ‘As part of the European Flagships project, we are delighted to be leading the way in reducing emissions from transport and demonstrating the phenomenal capabilities of hydrogen fuel cells in waterborne applications,’ explains CFT director Matthieu Blanc.
There is no denying that huge transport ships have revolutionized global trade over the past 50 years, but at the same time they have become one of the biggest polluters of harmful greenhouse gases. Mainly because most of them still rely on heavy fuel oil, mazut, which is ranked among the most polluting fuels and emits more carbon dioxide and fine carbon particles than refined fuels when burned. There’s a reason such transport vessels are the second biggest source of climate change, right?
To combat this, the European Union created the Horizon 2020 program, under which various initiatives could count on grants – one of them being the Flagships just mentioned, which received $6 million in support. One of the concept ships created under its auspices is already sailing in Paris, and two more are being constructed, so it looks like the technology has a lot of potential in inland navigation.