The UK company Bramble Energy
, which is based in Crawley and a developer of fuel cell technology, has achieved ‘a milestone in marine history’ by launching the world’s first hydrogen-electric boat powered by a trademarked PCBFC (printed circuit board fuel cell). The lead partner in the HyTime project and working alongside custom engine builder Barrus, Bramble Energy has produced a demonstration vessel that showcases the potential of its PCBFC technology to help decarbonise the marine sector.
The 57ft-long narrowboat was launched onto the water in Sheffield, where it successfully completed emissions-free testing using a ‘custom marinised fuel cell system’. This has the potential to provide the vessel with a range of about 600 miles using the 14kg of hydrogen stored on-board; the boat also has additional power that is supplied from solar panels on the boat’s roof to a 22kWh battery system.
In 2022, Bramble Energy was awarded just under £1 million of Government funding from BEIS (now the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero — DESNZ), to develop its hydrogen fuel cell technology as a solution to replace diesel engines in boats. The vessel, which has been built from the ground up, has been under construction in Sheffield where Bramble engineers have created a completely new design of a hydrogen system to meet marine requirements. The technology has the potential to save each boat using this powertrain technology up to 12 tonnes of CO2
per year. The global maritime sector contributes to 940 million tonnes of CO2
per year, which equates to about 2.5% of global greenhouse gases. Zero-emission solutions
Tom Mason, Bramble Energy’s co-founder and CEO, said: “While road transportation has arguably had the greatest amount of attention in terms of developing zero-emission solutions, the reality is there is a massive urgency to decarbonise across all transportation sectors – especially marine. CO2
emissions from the marine sector are staggering, a situation that requires a quick, convenient, cost-effective technology that also provides no compromise when it comes to performance.
“In a short amount of time we have designed, developed, built, and launched a working demonstration of our PCBFC technology within a marine application. Our solution can meet a range of power needs and is easily scalable, which is the exact catalyst the industry needs to make a seamless shift to hydrogen.”