2019 Showcase Presenting Company Recap – “WA Ferries: Gateway for a Regional Hydrogen Economy” with First Mode

Presented by Josh Sweere
Recap by guest-contributor Linnette Teo, University of Washington

67% of Washington State Department of Transportation’s greenhouse gas emissions come from its diesel powered ferries, with 26% of this from 3 specific vessels. Josh Sweere from FirstMode, a technology consultant company, proposed replacing diesel with fuel cells, and developing a regional hydrogen economy as a solution. Currently, 2 weeks of diesel is stored on board. This can be replaced by 4000kg of gaseous hydrogen, which is sufficient for the 26 crossings the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry makes in one day. There is also room for a single crossing using a 2400 kWh battery. This idea could tie in well with the state’s pledge to transition to hybrid electric ferries. However, fuel cells could perform better than a battery-diesel hybrid due to lower operation costs (fast charge required for battery during docking as opposed to refueling), and waste heat from fuel cells can be used for cabin heating (batteries cannot do combination heating).