Japanese firm plans zero-emission ferry

Oct 15, 2009
File photo shows the first zero-emission, hydrogen-fueled public water taxi in San Francisco. A Japanese shipmaker has said it plans to launch the world's first large electric ferry - the latest innovation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A Japanese shipmaker said Thursday it planned to launch the world's first large electric ferry -- the latest innovation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A subsidiary of heavy machinery giant IHI Corp. has completed a basic design for a 30-metre (99-foot) long ferry that could carry 800 passengers, powered by rechargeable batteries, a company spokesman said.

While smaller battery-powered boats are already in use, IHI's ferry would be "the world's first large plug-in vessel," he said.

"It would emit no or nitrogen oxide. We also aim to slash fuel costs," said the spokesman, who declined to be named.

The ferry would be able to cruise some 120 kilometres (74 miles) on a charge of six to eight hours, he said.

The group's shipbuilding subsidiary IHI Marine United Inc. plans to launch the ferry in around 2015, when it expects high-performance rechargeable batteries to be available at a lower cost.

The total battery capacity would be around 5,000 kilowatt hours -- more than 300 times greater than that of a small electric vehicle currently in use, the spokesman said.

The price is likely to be some 60 percent higher than that of a conventional ferry, he added.

Japanese car makers are already world leaders in fuel-efficient vehicles and Nissan plans to start selling what it describes as the world's first affordable electric car in late 2010.

(c) 2009 AFP

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