AN Oxfordshire-based engineering company will develop a hydrogen-powered power plant to support the move towards zero-emission boats.

Barrus in Bicester has partnered with Hypermotive - a hydrogen fuel cell and battery specialist - to deliver the project to inland boats across the country such as canal boats.

It comes in response to the UK’s 2019 Clean Maritime Plan which sets out the aim that by 2050 all boats in UK waters must be zero-emission.

The power plant would act as a hydrogen fuel cell battery which will power small boats rather than a petrol or diesel engine.

Barrus already supplies more than 30 per cent of the inland waterways power plants and therefore understands the needs of the industry.

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It will also work with HPi-CEproof, the UK’s body licensed to certify small boats which will help ensure the project meets the standards for boat electrification.

Tara Glen, Director of Barrus said: “Barrus has been involved with low-emission marine power plants for a while, in the form of diesel-electric hybrid systems and pure electric.

“Barrus has always been at the forefront of bringing new ideas to the marine industry. A fortuitous meeting with Hypermotive at a British Marine/MIA gathering, led to our ideas becoming this project.

Oxford Mail:

“We are delighted to partner with Hypermotive who have expertise in fuel cells from other sectors and HPi-CEproof, with whom we have worked many times concerning marine certification. We could not have two stronger partners for this project.”

The project will be overseen by a committee of industry stakeholders and is supported by a recently awarded Niche Vehicle Network (NVN) grant.

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Adam Huckstep, managing director at Hypermotive said: “Hypermotive are really pleased to be collaborating with EP Barrus and HPi-CEproof on this project.

"Our previous feasibility study work has shown a good technical fit between the proposed fuel cell battery hybrid power plant and the marine duty cycle, and operationally the inland marine industry is already familiar with gaseous fuels.

“We firmly believe fuel cells will play an important role in decarbonising our waterways.”

Hydrogen is currently not addressed in boating standards yet and so there is no compliance path to follow.

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Alasdair Reay, managing director at HPi-CEproof said: “HPi-CEproof, however, has formal accreditations to certify both boats and pressure equipment and using our knowledge from these areas, we look forward to ensuring the product that the project will realise, is compliant with the requirements of both the UK and EU markets.”

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Barrus signed a seven-year contract back in July with the UK’s Ministry of Defence which will see it deliver and repair engines of around 1,100 military boats.

The contract will support 40 jobs within Barrus’ Engineering Centre and secure future roles for young engineering students and the company’s graduate engineering intake programme in Oxfordshire.