Ship designer Ulstein Design & Solutions BV and Dutch fuel cell company Nedstack have unveiled details of the design of a new zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell-powered construction support vessel that could be in the water in less than three years
Based on an Ulstein SX190 design vessel platform, the zero-emission construction support vessel (CSV) would incorporate a Nedstack fuel cell power system.
“The maritime industry needs to align and be ambitious in bringing green solutions forward for a sustainable future,” said Ulstein Group deputy chief executive Tore Ulstein. “With this hydrogen-fuelled vessel, we aim for future zero-emission operations of long endurance,” he added. Mr Ulstein said sea trials of a newbuild Ulstein SX190 Zero Emission could happen as soon as 2022.
Ulstein Design said using current technology, the SX190 design would be capable of operating four days in zero-emission mode. It contended, however, that the rapid developments in hydrogen storage and fuel cell technologies could make future zero-emission endurance of up to two weeks possible. For extended missions and capabilities, the vessel could utilise more conventional diesel-electric propulsion using low-sulphur marine diesel oil.
Based on Ulstein’s existing SX190 vessel platform, the Ulstein SX190 Zero Emission design would have a total installed power of 7.5 MW, of which 2 MW would be generated by a fuel cell power system, typically Nedstack Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells, which are located in a separate, second engine room.
PEM fuel cells convert hydrogen and air into electric power, heat and water and produce no harmful emissions in the process. Nedstack fuel cell systems have already been built and proven in the multi-megawatt power ranges and have now been marinised to meet the requirements of the marine industry, including class requirements and supply chains.
In April, Nedstack cooperated with Dutch ship designer OSD-IMT on the concept for a hydrogen fuel cell-powered, 65-tonne bollard pull harbour tug concept.
“Implementing fuel cell technology in a workhorse like the SX190 CSV design is one of the steps we take to move the marine industry into a more sustainable future,” said Ulstein Design & Solutions product manager Ko Stroo.
One of the barriers to implementing new, cleaner energy sources is refuelling infrastructure – the so-called ‘chicken and egg dilemma’. Ulstein Design said the PEM fuel cells used in the SX190 Zero Emission design would be fuelled by hydrogen from containerised pressure vessels. These hydrogen storage containers would be loaded and unloaded by normal container handling operations and equipment, eliminating the need for expensive bunkering infrastructure and providing worldwide operational flexibility.
The hydrogen containers can be refilled at hydrogen production sites, either from industry by-product hydrogen or green hydrogen from electrolysis, making the vessel globally employable.
Ulstein Group said the hydrogen fuel cell-powered CSV aligns with ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ as defined by the UN Global Compact, namely reducing the environmental footprint of offshore projects, the negative impact of offshore construction vessels on local marine ecosystems, and cooperating across companies and industries to achieve synergy effects for the most sustainable solutions.