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Feasibility of the Zero-V: A Zero-Emission, Hydrogen Fuel-Cell, Coastal Research Vessel

May 7, 2018

The study evaluates the feasibility of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered coastal research vessel named Zero-V, highlighting its environmental benefits, reduced noise, and potential for refueling at key ports. While the vessel's construction costs are competitive with diesel-powered counterparts, operational costs are higher due to current renewable hydrogen prices, but it offers significant environmental and operational advantages.

The study aims to assess the viability of a coastal research vessel powered exclusively by hydrogen fuel cells, considering technical, regulatory, and economic aspects. Hydrogen fuel cells offer numerous advantages for research vessels, including zero emissions, suitability for Arctic exploration, reduced noise for accurate sonar mapping, and water generation for onboard use. The design of the proposed vessel, named Zero-V, was developed by a team including Sandia National Laboratories, Glosten, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and DNV GL. The Zero-V is designed to accommodate various research missions, with specific vessel requirements detailed in a table. The vessel's design ensures it can dock at primary ports like San Diego, Monterey, San Francisco, and Redwood City. The Zero-V's design incorporates a trimaran hull, is constructed of aluminum, and uses hydrogen fuel cells for propulsion and service electrical needs. The vessel's noise levels are expected to be low, benefiting marine life and onboard comfort. Emission analyses show significant reductions in CO2 and other pollutants when using renewable hydrogen. Economically, the Zero-V's construction cost is competitive with similar diesel-powered vessels, though operational costs are higher due to current renewable hydrogen prices. Refueling would be achieved using LH2 trailers at docking ports. Both the USCG and DNV GL found the design promising, with DNV GL granting a conditional approval. In conclusion, the study finds it feasible to create and operate a hydrogen fuel cell-powered coastal research vessel with significant environmental benefits.

Read the study here:

Zero_V Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Coastal Research Vessel (2018)
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