Clean-fuel boat to be showcased in Timber Cove |

Clean-fuel boat to be showcased in Timber Cove

Hema Easley

Come Wednesday, residents will get a glimpse of an environment-friendly, fuel-efficient boat, which may one day help answer some of Lake Tahoe’s myriad environmental concerns.

DCH Technology Inc., a Valencia-based manufacturer of hydrogen fuel cells, will showcase an 18-foot boat that is powered by zero-emission hydrogen and fuel cell technology. Moored at Timber Cove Pier in South Lake Tahoe, the boat will take people on short five-minute rides to give them a sense of how the boat operates.

“The zero-emission technology is of benefit not only to the water but also to the air,” said Aaron Rachlin, program manager of DCH Technology. “The only emission of the fuel cell is water vapor.”

The public demonstration in Tahoe will the the fifth and last showcasing in California of the technology, which replaces the traditional turbine engine system with the hydrogen fuel cell. The water taxi was shown in recent weeks at Newport Beach and San Diego harbors, in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River in Old Town Sacramento.

The Wednesday demonstration will take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Timber Cove Pier, adjacent to the Best Western Motel at 3411 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

Though the technology is not new, it hasn’t been widely used because it is more expensive to run than the gas- and diesel-powered engines. However, DCH Technology believes that in “two to four years, we should get it competitive with pleasure craft” using traditional fuels.

In its current stage of development, the engine can power small boats to run at five to six mph. Rachlin said in time the technology would be advanced enough to power race boats as well.

“Gas- and diesel-powered maritime vessels are highly polluting. There’s a real-time need for a solution,” said Dr. Alan Lloyd, executive director of California Air Resources Board, which is funding the hydrogen fuel cell-powered boat project.

“We believe the water taxi will engage the public in a very near-term application of hydrogen power,” he said in a statement.

Officials from CARB, the State Water Quality Control Board, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Reno-based Desert Research Institute have been invited to attend Wednesday’s demonstration at Lake Tahoe, Rachlin said.

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