“Welcome to the dawn of the age of hydrogen and other non-hydrogen gases.” This could well be one of the signs that greets delegates as they enter the Dubai World Trade Centre in September for the first live Gastech in over two years.
Based on the topics of the papers that will be presented during the three-day strategic and technical programme, much of the discussion in the meeting rooms and on the trade show floor will be devoted to the carriage in bulk of non-hydrocarbon gases – namely, hydrogen and CO2.
With climate change and decarbonisation of shipping on everyone’s mind, hydrogen along with ammonia are viewed as important carbon-free future fuels. Additionally, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) will help bridge the gap to when enough renewable energy is available to create an ample supply of green versions of these fuels.
While the trade of ammonia is well established, that’s not the case for hydrogen and CO2.
Regarding the two non-hydrocarbon gases, SIGTTO president Steffen Jacobsen notes in the latest SIGTTO Annual Report: “Much work still needs to be done, not least in the development of processes that produce the required volumes of such liquefied gases in the mandated environment-friendly manner. Thereafter, SIGTTO will be closely involved with the development of new regulations governing the transport of significant volumes of liquefied hydrogen by sea in gas carriers in a safe manner.”
Adds Mr Jacobsen: “While the potential of hydrogen as fuel in the maritime and other sectors is set to create the need for a new type of gas carrier, another environmental consideration is similarly creating opportunities for gas ship naval architects. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, to be situated adjacent to heavily polluting shore plants, will require CO2 carriers of up to 15,000 m3, about 10 times the size of the handful of CO2 carriers currently carrying such cargoes around Europe on behalf of the beverages industry.”
“Faced with a multi-fuel future, more shipowners are betting on dual-fuel engine technology”
The world’s first LH2 carrier, Suiso Frontier, and the creation of a hydrogen supply chain in a pilot project between Japan and Australia, will be among the topics addressed during Gastech’s maritime stream of the technical programme.
Faced with a multi-fuel future, more shipowners are betting on dual-fuel engine technology in their newbuilds, with an increasing number choosing LNG as a fuel – the cleanest fossil fuel currently available—to immediately lower CO2 and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and comply with EEDI. Recent large shipbuilding orders have grown the non-LNG carrier fleet of LNG-fuelled vessels. There are 213 LNG-fuelled vessels in operation and another 350 on order or under construction, according to DNV’s Alternative Fuel Insights.
As a marine fuel, LNG reduces CO2 emissions by 25%, and NOx by 90%, while virtually eliminating SOx emissions and particulate matter as compared with traditional marine fuels.
Shipowners opting for LNG-fuelled newbuildings are future-proofing their investments, too. These ships, for example, can switch to burning synthetic LNG or ammonia when the fuel becomes available and commercially viable. Retrofits of these ships to burn ammonia (none would be necessary for synthetic LNG) could start as soon as the next decade, says DNV.
In its Maritime Forecast 2050, DNV says: “The dual-fuel LNG engine wins out as it can run on cheaper LNG. It also has 20 to 25% less tank-to-wake CO2 emissions, a significant benefit for complying with increasingly stringent regulations on these. In addition, LNG engines and fuel systems are flexible in terms of future-fuel options, including setting aside space for fuel storage tanks and potentially reusing them.”
Clearly, shipping has entered the dawn of the age of hydrogen and other non-hydrocarbon fuels.