Company powers world's first fuel cell-driven passenger ship

Proton Power Systems plc (AIM: PPS), a leading designer, developer and producer of fuel cells and fuel cell hybrid systems, will today unveil the world's first fuel cell driven passenger ship, running on an innovative hybrid fuel cell drive technology produced by the Company's wholly owned subsidiary, Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH ("Proton Motor").  


The ZemShip (Zero Emission Ship), based in the port of Hamburg, Germany, will run on a hybrid unit integrating two of Proton Motor's 48 kW fuel cell systems and a lead gel battery. An intelligent energy management system effectively co-ordinates the output of power between the fuel cells and the battery to offer twice the fuel efficiency of a standard diesel engine ship. The fuel cell hybrid system provides the ship with a non-polluting and virtually silent drive. It uses up to 50 kg of gaseous hydrogen stored in onboard tanks, sufficient to provide fuel for around three days' use.  


The European Union is investing 2.4 million in ZemShip's development, realisation and operation until 2010. Following the commencement of operations, technicians will collect information on the performance of the hybrid zero emission drive and identify areas of improvement to feed into the Company's ongoing commercialisation programme. The power system has been certified for maritime operations by Germanischer Lloyd.  


After a phase of test operation the ship operator will gradually take the ship into commercial service starting this year, with a capacity of 100 passengers at a time. The ZemShip project, which began in November 2006, has been co-ordinated by the city of Hamburg and has received the support of eight other partners in addition to Proton Motor.  


This marks the first use of fuel cell systems in marine passenger transport and represents a major milestone for the Company. To date, fuel cell systems of equivalent performance level in maritime applications have only been realised for military submarines.  


Thomas Melczer, CEO of Proton Power Systems plc, commented: "The launch of the ZemShip marks a significant milestone for Proton Power and is a testament to the potential that our fuel cell technology has in helping to reduce and even eliminate emissions in maritime transport.  


"Marine passenger transport is just one of the many applications for our fuel cell systems. Our product has numerous routes to market, such as uninterruptible power supply (UPS); city buses; back-to-base systems, including forklifts and other materials-handling vehicles; and municipal utility vehicles, such as refuse collection trucks and road sweepers. We intend to identify those routes that enable us to achieve volume sales in the immediate future, with the aim to put ourselves in a cash generating position in the quickest possible timeframe."


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