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H2 is already moving containers in the Port of València

The Port of València is using a ReachStacker or stacker capable of moving containers of more than 30 tons using H2 as the only fuel. The European H2PORTS project, led by the Fundación Valenciaport, has organized this morning a public demonstration of the three pilots developed within the framework of this project, the ReachStacker (container stacker) and the 4×4 tractor unit propelled by H2 and the mobile supply station for this clean fuel.

The demonstration event took place first in the auditorium of the Port Authority of Valencia (PAV), and then at MSCTV terminal and Valencia Terminal Europa (VALTE), terminal of the Grimaldi Group, where the participants were able to see the machines in operation.

The opening of the conference was attended by Francesc Sánchez, director of the PAV; Antonio Torregrosa, general director of the Fundación Valenciaport; Federico Torres, director of Ecological Transition of the PAV; Mirela Atanasiu, executive director of the Clean H2 Partnership (the project’s funding entity); and Josep Sanz, director of Energy Transition and Sustainability of the Fundación Valenciaport and coordinator of the H2PORTS project.

During the event, the public were able to see live the performance of the prototype H2 fuel cell ReachStacker developed by Hyster which was demonstrated in real operation at the MSCTV container terminal. The H2 ReachStacker on display is an innovative zero emission solution that uses a fuel cell from the manufacturer Nuvera to convert H2 into electricity.

The machine arrived at the MSC terminal for testing in September 2023, becoming the first ReachStacker-type machine in Europe to use H2 fuel cell technologies for port handling equipment in real operating conditions. H2 is stored on board the ReachStacker in high-pressure tanks that can be refilled in 10-15 minutes. The H2 fuel cell supplies power to the electric motors or returns it to the batteries depending on the demand of the task, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution compared to a diesel alternative and with similar performance. In addition, eliminating the diesel engine, transmission and other mechanical drive components from the ReachStacker can help ports reduce operating costs.

The attendees also travelled to the VALTE terminal where they were able to see in detail the world’s first H2-powered terminal tractor, which was developed by ATENA with the support of ENEA and the Parthenope University of Naples. The terminal tractor loaded with renewable H2 demonstrated its autonomy, reliability and power by hitching up a truck trailer and driving around the terminal. The test was observed by the more than 150 people attending the demonstration, who saw how the only residue of the H2 combustion was water droplets.

This Terminal Tractor has a fuel cell/battery hybrid powertrain which allows the vehicle to perform all the intensive tasks that are required during roll-on/roll-off operations. Its H2 storage system, made of four Type 3 cylinders (350 bar), has an overall capacity of around 12 kg, which guarantees a continuous operation of at least 6 hours before refueling, corresponding to the average duration of a working shift. The electric motor is a light and efficient device, particularly suitable for power demanding applications. It is fed by a high-performance LiFePO4 battery, with 25-kWh energy capacity, and a 70-kW Ballard fuel cell module. In particular, the electric motor can receive power for traction from the fuel cell and battery simultaneously or charge the battery during braking or decelerations. At the same time, the fuel cell can provide power both to the electric motor and the battery, if needed. The hybrid powertrain shows high operational efficiency, since it takes advantage of a significant share of kinetic energy recovery, up to 25.

In addition, the participants visited the H2 station, developed by the Spanish National H2 Centre (CNH2), and learned about the details of the H2 supply and refueling management carried out by the company Carburos Metálicos. This supply station consists of a fixed part, located on the Xità quay, and a mobile part, which is used for refueling.

CNH2 and Carburos Metálicos experts explained to the attendees how they carried out the H2 refueling operation of the ReachStacker, during which it was necessary that the mobile part of the H2 generator, that stores H2 compressed at 300 bar and 450 bar and includes a dispenser, be moved to the MSCTV terminal. In this first test period, the operation tests of refueling approximately 30 kg of H2 from the ReachStacker were successfully carried out, performing the optimization tasks in accordance with the refueling protocols, complying with the limits and procedures established in the applicable regulations.

The pilot tests, which began in mid-September, are scheduled to run until December 2024, subjecting the machines to real operating conditions in a port terminal.

H2 is a clean energy carrier with the benefits of easy storage and when used produces no emissions other than heat and water. The H2 fuel cell converts H2 to electricity resulting in a zero-emission equipment that, if combined with the use of renewable H2, is also carbon neutral. The technology shows some advantages compared to other available zero emission technologies like pure electric versions. This H2 version also shows a good operating range, short fueling time and low maintenance costs.

For Francesc Sánchez, director of the PAV, “this project reaffirms Valenciaport’s commitment to decarbonization and the use of alternative energies to fossil fuels. This project that we are presenting today is a pioneer in Europe, a success for the Valenciaport Foundation, the València Port Authority, the European Commission and all the companies and institutions that collaborate in the H2PORTS project.”

“In the future, the most competitive ports will be the most efficient in alternative energies. At Valenciaport we are committed to all the options that lead to decarbonization; and this project that we are presenting today is probably the first in the world to use H2 in port terminal machinery operations,” he added.

For his part, Federico Torres, head of Energy Transition at Valenciaport, explained the diversity of projects that the PAV is working on to supply itself 100% with alternative energies: electrical substations so that ships can connect to the electricity grid, photovoltaic, H2, wave and wind power.

For Antonio Torregrosa, general director of Fundación Valenciaport, “one of the elements of competitiveness of this port has been innovation. That is why, for some time now, we have been trying out all kinds of technologies that have made this port a world benchmark in sustainability, digitalization and efficiency”.

Finally, Mirela Atanasiu, Executive Director ad Interim – Clean H2 Partnership, acknowledged “the efforts of all the technicians, companies and consortiums that have collaborated in this pioneering project, which serves as an example for all the ports in the world.”