London- Hydrogen is being promoted as an inevitable green fuel for the future. Tell it to those who have to ship it all over the world at very low temperatures close to outer space.
Still, that’s exactly what the designer is trying to do.
In the biggest technical challenges of merchant ships over decades, companies have begun to develop a new generation of ships capable of supplying hydrogen to the heavy industry, with betting factories around the world converting to fuel and moving towards a low-carbon economy. Drive the transition.
According to affiliates, there are at least three projects to develop pilot vessels ready to test fuel transport in Europe and Asia within the next three years.
The main challenge is to cool hydrogen to minus 253 ° C (just 20 degrees above absolute zero). This allows hydrogen to remain liquid while avoiding the risk of cracking parts of the container.
This was about 100 degrees Celsius lower than the temperature required to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG), and about 60 years ago it required its own transport revolution.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan has already built the world’s first ship to transport hydrogen, Siso Frontier. The prototype is under sea trial, and the first voyage of about 9,000 km from Australia to Japan is expected within a few months.
Motohiko Nishimura, Deputy Executive Officer of Kawasaki, said, “The next stage of the project to build a commercial-scale hydrogen carrier by the mid-2020s is already underway and we are aiming for commercialization in 2030.”
The 1,250 cubic meter tank that holds hydrogen is vacuum insulated with a double shell to maintain temperature.
Kawasaki’s prototype is relatively modest with a length of 116 meters and a total tonnes of 8,000 tons, and will run on diesel on its first voyage, but the company aims to use hydrogen to power future large commercial vessels. I will.
Another project is underway in South Korea, one of the world’s leading shipbuilding hubs.
According to a spokeswoman for the company, Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering is the first company in the country to build a commercial liquefied hydrogen carrier.
To address the frigid challenges, the company is working with steelmakers to develop high-strength steel and new welding technologies to contain hydrogen and reduce the risk of cracks in pipes and tanks, and enhance insulation. He said he was.
On the other side of the world, Norway is also working to build a hydrogen supply chain on the west coast of the country, and one group is considering operating a test vessel capable of transporting hydrogen to a planned filling station. I will. We can serve not only ships but also trucks and buses.
The Norwegian shipping company Wilhelmsen Group is working with partners on the latter project to build a “roll-on / roll-off” ship that can transport liquid hydrogen through containers or trailers operated on board. Vice president of the company, a special project.
He added that the ship is scheduled to operate in the first half of 2024.
“We believe we will build a bunkering hub on the west coast (Norway) when this demonstration vessel becomes operational,” Blinchman said, referring to the gas station.
Other companies are looking for alternative routes to avoid the cold conundrum and what happens when hydrogen atoms interact with metals.
For example, Ballard Power Systems of Canada and Global Energy Ventures of Australia are working together to develop a ship that transports compressed hydrogen in the form of gas.
“The earliest time frame will be 2025-26,” said Nicolas Pocard, vice president of marketing and strategic partnership with Ballard.
The advantage of this gas approach is that it does not require extreme temperatures. However, the disadvantage is that less hydrogen can be transported in the cargo than liquid hydrogen. That’s why some early movers are choosing liquid hydrogen.
Wilhelmsen’s Brinchmann said a 12-meter container carries about 800-1,000 kg of pressurized hydrogen gas, but up to 3,000 kg of liquid hydrogen.
Such efforts are far from risk-free.
In the first place, they are expensive. Three industry experts say they cost $ 50 to $ 240 million each, depending on size and cost more than LNG-equipped vessels, but all companies have their own vessels. Did not comment on the cost.
“The cost of a vessel transporting hydrogen depends primarily on the cost of the storage system. Storage of liquid hydrogen can be very expensive due to its complexity,” said the vessel certification body LR. Carlo Raucci, a marine decarbonization consultant, added separately.
Pilot projects that are still in the experimental stage need to overcome these technical challenges and rely on catching hydrogen as a widely used fuel in the coming years.
Neither of these is certain, but the state support behind this cleaner combustion fuel suggests that the world’s energy mix has a future.
More than 30 countries, including European countries such as France and Germany, and South Korea and Australia, have announced plans to deploy hydrogen.
According to a recent report by the Hydrogen Council and consultant McKinsey, if hundreds of fuel-based projects are realized, the total planned investment could exceed $ 300 billion by 2030.
The role of shipping is important in unlocking the potential to convert industries such as steel and cement to hydrogen.
These two heavy industry sectors alone are estimated to generate more than 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions, and overcoming the need for fossil fuels is an important part of the global transition to a low-carbon economy. This is one of the challenges.
Tiago Braz, vice president of energy for Norwegian marine technology developer Hoglund, said the company is working with steel experts and tank designers to design a marine cargo system that can be used to transport liquid hydrogen. ..
“We are in the early stages of hydrogen carriers, but unlike when LNG was first deployed, the industry can change more flexibly,” says Braz.
“It should be a faster transition,” he added.
According to experts, the development of LNG took decades to fully deploy. This is due in part to the required infrastructure and ships, and the few companies that are willing to invest first.
Companies operating in the wider shipping market are also considering the possibility of diversifying hydrogen transport in the future.
Paul Wogan, CEO of GasLog Partners, a key player on LNG carriers, said he was “open-minded” about the transition to hydrogen, and oil tanker owner Euronav is considering future energy transport. I said there is.
“If that energy is hydrogen tomorrow, we certainly want to play a role in emerging industries,” said Euronav CEO Hugo de Stoop.
Other companies, such as major vessel management company Maersk Tankers, said they are willing to manage their hydrogen transport assets.
Johan Petter Tutturen, Business Director of Gas Carriers at the ship certification body DNVMaritime, said his company is involved in conceptual research on high-volume hydrogen transport at sea.
“It will take years for these projects to come to fruition, but if hydrogen becomes part of the future fuel mix, we must now begin exploring all possibilities. “
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