Demonstration of liquid hydrogen as a fuel for segments of the waterborne sector

Shipping contributes significantly to local air pollution in major harbour areas and around 3% of global CO2 emissions. Shipping is bound to grow together with global trade and against other sectors decarbonising more quickly. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has found that GHG emissions from ships have already increased by 70% since 1990 [1] and the European Commission strategy [2] estimates that without action the global share of shipping's GHG emissions may reach 17% by 2050. IMO has set a 50% reduction target for emissions related to maritime transport by 2050 compared to 2008, and an ambition of full decarbonization by 2100. In this context, the shipping market is forced to identify more sustainable fuels on the route to full decarbonisation and adopt new technologies for on-board energy conversion for all its fields (cargo, passenger ferries, cruise, service/supply vessels…).

Hydrogen as a fuel can enable zero-emission shipping in both GHG and pollutant emissions. However, the volumetric energy density of gaseous hydrogen is a limiting factor in terms of range which is critical for several types of ships. Hydrogen in its liquid form at approx. 20Kelvin (LH2) is a promising solution to address this issue but little knowledge related to the handling and use of LH2 within the shipping sector exists today due to a lack of demonstration projects. In turn, it hampers the progression of its inclusion in relevant regulations. Similarly, managing LH2 within a port environment (where industrial clusters users of hydrogen are often found) is yet to be demonstrated, with its subsequent learnings.

There are currently several challenges associated with using liquid hydrogen as a fuel in shipping:

  • The total system's energy and power density as well as redundancy should be adequately secured for the specific applications;
  • Not sufficiently mature/developed regulations, codes and standards (RCS), apply currently to hydrogen-related technologies in maritime environment. The time-consuming and ship type specific Alternative Design process may exhibit an unavoidable challenge, as IMO rules are not yet in place;
  • Market deployment, cost reduction strategies (including maintenance for marine environments) leading to viable business models need to be developed;
  • The public domain needs to be addressed, ensuring the acceptance of these new propulsion systems by the shipping industry and public.

The scope of this topic is to develop a prototype of a maritime power system operating on LH2 including bunkering concept with the potential for scaling-up (for larger amount of stored energy in adequacy with a 20 MW system, preferably fuel cell based), ensuring minimisation of hydrogen loss/leakage/boil-off. The system should be capable to deliver to the ship propulsion and/or on-board energy needs. The prototype's scalability needs to be proven ensuring the capability to completely replace prevailing ship propulsion systems.

A reference ship should be selected for the ship’s operational profile, the power/energy requirements and volume/weight constraints defined. A type of ship within an early adopters' segment of maritime transport preferably with potential for extensive use and widespread deployment is recommended, to secure the overall impact of the effort.
The proposals should address the following technical components/issues of the prototype system:

  • LH2 fuel supply/bunkering infrastructure;
  • LH2 storage and distribution in a ship, with a minimum of 1.5 tons of tank capacity;
  • A power system of minimum 2 MW output, preferably based on fuel cell technology; other conventional technology solutions (such as combustion engines) could be offered, but their development is not considered within the scope of the topic and therefore not supported by funding;
  • Evaluate the technical feasibility and the benefit of cogeneration to provide additionally heat to the ship and, if possible tri-generation including cooling;
  • Identify best configuration of electrical architecture for an optimal integration (e.g. AC/DC grids, power management system, batteries, etc…), allowing for hybridizing potential with different combination of fuel cells, batteries, super cap, or combustion engines if desired;
  • The performance, durability and efficiency of the prototype system should be demonstrated according to the operational profiles defined by the reference ship. The project should include an operational/testing period of at least 12 months (including both winter and summer season) and a minimum of 3,000 operational hours. Bunkering to sustain the normal operational profile of the system should be considered;
  • Scalability to suit larger 20 MW applications should be proven at design phase including definition and design of physical on-board integration and interconnection with other main ship’s systems (e.g. fuel, electric, thermal) for the 20 MW scale system with corresponding energy storage requirements.



Tuesday, 21 April, 2020 - 17:00
Geographical Coverage: EuropeanSector of Activity:
Carbon capture and storage
Environmental monitoring
Research & innovation