Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Spain's Valencia Port will be the first in Europe to use hydrogen for its cargo operations thanks to a $4.6 million European pilot program that aims to reduce port activities' environmental impact.
The project will start with the use of a reach stacker and of a terminal tractor, used to manipulate containers, both powered by hydrogen batteries, a Tuesday statement said.
"The pilot project, denominated H2Ports, also incorporates the installation of a new mobile station to supply hydrogen, that in the initial phase of the project will work in the terminals of Grimaldi (Valencia Terminal Europa) and MSC of the Port of Valencia," the statement said.
The Grimaldi group is a shipping company based in Naples, Italy, with operations in 25 countries. Mediterranean Shipping Company, one of the world's biggest shipping companies with operations in 150 countries, was also founded in Naples, but is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
"The H2Ports will allow to demonstrate the use in real operations of these new prototypes in the Grimaldi and MSC terminals," the Valencia Port statement added.
Other partners in the project are the United States-based equipment manufacturer Hyster-Yale Materials Handling; the Europe division based in Denmark of Canada-based developer of fuel cell products Ballard Power Systems; and Enagas, a Spain-based natural gas transportation company with operations elsewhere in Europe and Latin America.
Hydrogen is an alternative to fossil fuels that unlike traditional energy sources does not release carbon dioxide or monoxide.
"When hydrogen burns, it combines with the oxygen in the air and mixes with water. The hydrogen energy is recyclable because its way of escape is its conversion to water," the statement added.
Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, an organization that receives aid from the European Union's Hydrogen Europe Research and Hydrogen Europe, contributed with the financing.
The plan was made possible after authorities of the Valencia Port signed the accord with Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking to promote the use of hydrogen. As many as 88 regions and cities of 22 countries in Europe are participating in efforts related to finding ways to promote the use of hydrogen.
Valencia, located on Spain's southeastern Mediterranean Sea coast, has been known in recent years for its futuristic structures. It is Spain's third largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, and was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC.
The port moves over 5 million containers annually. It is one of the two main ports of Spain in traffic and moved cargo.
Other city initiatives to reduce fuel impact include a system under which thousands of bicycles are shared in over 250 stations throughout the city.
Other efforts include an initiative by Toyota Motor Corp. in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Calif., to use trucks powered by hydrogen.
Another project in Honolulu has involved the use of a hydrogen fuel cell.
The port of Auckland, in New Zealand, will go a step further as it plans to complete a plant by the end of this year that will use tap water to make hydrogen to help power operations.