05 December 2023
In an effort to deliver a viable hydrogen fuel solution, the technology group Wärtsilä partnered with other maritime giants. Hence, the class society RINA, ABB, Helbio – Metacon AB subsidiary, the Liberian Registry, and an energy major have joined forces.
The aim is to establish a scalable and sustainable solution that will exceed the IMO 2050 target. Therefore, achieve a 70% reduction in carbon intensity without the need for extensive infrastructure investment. This offers the shipping industry a pathway to low-carbon operations within a reasonable time frame.
The current difficulties and cost considerations are the production, distribution, and onboard storage of hydrogen fuel. Thus, the prescribed factors have so far limited the sector’s interest in hydrogen’s direct use as a marine fuel. However, by producing hydrogen on board, and using readily available LNG, the solution becomes far more viable. Not to mention, that the establishment of it can come in a much faster time than would otherwise be possible.
“Our gas engines are already able to use mixtures of hydrogen and LNG, and our future efforts will be to reach 100% hydrogen fuel. We are totally committed to supporting in every way possible the decarbonisation of shipping operations. This project is one more example of this commitment, and we are very pleased to be partnering with other stakeholders to make the IMO 2050 target achievable. This project will give owners a real chance to stay ahead of the competition in terms of efficiency and sustainability,” .Lars Anderson, Director, Product Management & Sales Support, Wärtsilä Marine Power
The concept is based on combining LNG with steam to produce hydrogen and CO2. So, the proposed system will use the resulting hydrogen directly in a mix with natural gas. Then, it can be supplied in internal combustion engines or in fuel cells. In that way, it can eliminate the need for hydrogen storage onboard.
Nevertheless, the new development will liquefy CO2 using the cryogenic stream of LNG fuel. Later, the operator may dispose of the CO2 ashore for carbon storage. Alternatively, tankers can use the stored CO2 as inert gas during discharge.
Above all, stakeholders can easily install the necessary equipment on the deck of a commercial vessel. Hence, the innovative concept will support the marine sector’s gradual transition from LNG to hydrogen. Particularly, since the retrofit will not require any major adjustments to a vessel’s onboard technologies.
Additionally, the proposed modification will only require LNG bunkering. The progressive increase of hydrogen production will reduce fossil methane consumption and associated methane slip at the same rate.
In projects of this extend, the involved parties have to assess roles to achieve the finest result with smooth cooperation. Thus, the accounted roles are as follows.
- Wärtsilä and ABB will support the application of hydrogen fuel in powering internal combustion engines and fuel cells respectively.
- Helbio will provide the technology and manufacturing of gas reformers.
- RINA and the Liberian Registry will provide advice and guidance on the application of rules and regulations for novel concept alternative designs. This will be based on Hazid/Hazop analysis, as well as specific rules for this kind of arrangement.
Thoughts from the Nerd
Nowadays, the race to obtain the fuel of the future has provided various projects with distinctive and exciting concepts.
So far, the most attractive could be the use of alternative fuels in methanol-ammonia engines.
For many years, the major players in the industry have been developing alternative solutions while attempting to introduce hydrogen fuel solutions. However, a viable and recognized solution has not been established yet.
Will this innovative project initiate the elimination of fuels that are harmful to the environment? Or will it not live up to the hype.