Japanese consortium eyes fuel cell ship
Yamaha will supply the hull of the 10-ton-class vessel. Flat Field, a builder of low-emissions buses, will develop and procure parts and materials for the fuel cells.
Iwatani will offer technical support in such areas as handling hydrogen. Toda will manage the overall project, which will be backed by the Ministry of the Environment.
The consortium will begin test runs of the vessel in Nagasaki Prefecture this summer. The ship can travel about 80km on around 160 normal cu. meters of hydrogen, or roughly twice the volume used in a fuel cell automobile.
The ship now costs in excess of 100 million yen ($803,210) to build, more than three times as much as a similarly sized ship running on heavy oil. The companies aim to make it available for commercial use possibly around the time of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The athletes' village for those games will use the clean fuel.
The consortium also sees the project boosting the economies of Japan's coastal areas by putting in place infrastructure to produce ship-use hydrogen at wind and solar power facilities by the sea.
Development of fuel cell ships has lagged behind that of their land-based counterparts, with Germany making some progress.
Toyota Motor released the Mirai, the world's first commercial fuel cell car, last year. Toyota Industries began testing a fuel cell forklift this year, while Hino Motors plans to launch a fuel cell bus in 2016.