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A French company is in the final stages of development of the first freighter powered by hydrogen in the world. If all goes well, the vessel should set sail for the first time later this year, paving the way for a greener navigation

The boat was built by the Companhia Fluvial de Transportes (CFT) and should be deployed on the River Seine, which cuts through the city of Paris. It will use a kind of hydrogen pill produced from electrolysis as its only source of energy. 

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The ship was designed for so-called inland water routes, which are rivers and lakes within cities. For now, the technology is not yet ready to supply vessels that sail in the oceans

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"The demand for more sustainable technologies in inland waterway transport is increasing," said CFT director Matthieu Blanc. "We are happy to lead the way in reducing transport emissions and demonstrate the superior characteristics of hydrogen fuel cells in aquatic applications," he added. 

The vessel is part of the Flagships project and cost around US $ 6 million (R $ 36,68) to be built. The amount was received through the Horizon 2020 program, an initiative of the European Union aimed at further research in the transportation of hydrogen-powered cargo. In addition to it, another concept ship is already sailing in Paris and two others are under construction. 

Ships are big polluters

Illustration of the Flagships H2 ferry, which will be powered by hydrogen. Credit: LMG Marin / Courtesy

Large cargo ships and cruise liners are some of the world's biggest polluters and vehicles that emit the most toxic gases. In general, waterway transport as a whole is the second largest contributor to the destruction of the ozone layer and, consequently, climate change. 

This is because most large ships operate with a system known as “bunker fuel”, which emits more carbon dioxide than burning refined fuel, such as gasoline and diesel. 

Transferring compressed hydrogen technology can present a major logistical challenge, as fossil fuels they are lighter and give a much greater autonomy to vessels. Adopting this type of fuel may mean the need for refueling stops, which can increase the cost of operating trips. 

With information from Futurism 

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