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Inland marina – first for hydrogen

Robert and Audrey Parton, husband and wife owners of Aqueduct Marina, a narrowboat marina in Church Minshull on the Shropshire Union Canal, have long been stewards for decarbonisation. Surrounded by iconic English countryside and mindful of the need to keep inland waterways as unpolluted as possible, they have scored a UK first by offering hydrogen and fuel cell technology to the boating community.

The marina, which was also one of the first inland waterways marinas in England to offer HVO alongside conventional diesel, is now supplying BOC’s Genie lightweight hydrogen cylinders. These contain 30% more gas than equivalent steel cylinders, resulting in fewer changeovers.
In addition to supplying hydrogen, establishing a commercial agreement with BOC enables Aqueduct to supply all BOC gases to customers. Chandlery manager, Tom Raines, explains that new customers need to set up a BOC account, which normally takes about ten minutes, and then can buy welding gas, balloon gas, oxygen and hydrogen.

Aqueduct owners are also working with Hydrogen Afloat, producers of hydrogen fuel cell domestic power systems for boats. These innovative units can be fitted to the roof of most narrow boats and will reduce engine running time for battery charging while emitting nothing more damaging than water.
“My expectation is that we will not sell much hydrogen in the short term, but there are power systems, such as the one provided by Hydrogen Afloat, on the market now and I am looking forward to seeing how the hydrogen propulsion market develops,” Robert Parton says.
Nick Swift, director of Hydrogen Afloat, comments: “We are delighted that Aqueduct is the first marina in the UK to stock hydrogen. We need to find ways to decarbonise the canals and rivers of the UK. We can start with domestic power, since that works now, but in time I expect we will see hydrogen used for propulsion.”
“Birmingham, London and other cities already have fuel cell buses, so hydrogen gas is becoming more widely used. Making hydrogen available at the canal-side supports innovation in the inland waterways, creating the opportunity for early adopters to take advantage of the benefits it offers,” he adds.

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