Auriga Energy in Bristol is working on a new generation of fuel cells that can power large ships using hydrogen. The company has already built the UK’s only hydrogen powered boat to demonstrate the first generation technology.

Now the EU-funded Hylantic project aims to develop a modular marine fuel cell to provide any power level, says Jas Singh, CEO and founder of Auriga.

“For our development we are doing a 10kW unit,” he said. “The biggest single unit will be 50kW and if you want higher power then you do multiples of 10, 20 or 50kW.”

The fuel cell take hydrogen from a tank and generates electricity to power the ships engines, emitting only water. The hydrogen can be generated by an electrolyser using renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power.

“Shipping is a bigger emitter of carbon dioxide than any other mode of transport,” he said, “but ship owners are planning for a longer future as th ships are in service for 40 even 50 years or more. With hydrogen power you have to have the big infrastructure issue sorted at the port of departure and arrival, but it works for local shipping such as ferries going to and from the same port.”

Auriga’s Hydrogenesis hydrogen powered boat is running Bristol harbour for the seventh year, demonstrating the technology is mature. The Hylantic project runs until 2020.