Wärtsilä will collaborate with ABB, classification society RINA, Helbio (a hydrogen energy system specialist), the Liberian Registry, and an unnamed energy major, to pursue a fast track for providing independent hydrogen fuel systems for ships. The partners are aiming for a 70% reduction in carbon intensity without the need for large-scale infrastructure investment ashore.
They plan to combine LNG and steam to produce hydrogen and CO2. The hydrogen will then be used directly in a mix with natural gas in engines or fuel cells, thereby eliminating the challenges associated with storing hydrogen aboard ship. The CO2 can be liquefied by using the cryogenic steam of LNG that would be used as fuel anyway, and later disposed of ashore for carbon storage.
The project could circumvent the challenges of storing hydrogen on ships which, the partners suggest, may be one factor that is limiting interest in the carbon-free fuel. However, producing hydrogen from LNG at sea, rather than at shore-based facilities, could make the fuel option available much sooner at lower cost, they believe. Meanwhile, by steadily increasing hydrogen production, the consumption of fossil methane and associated methane slip can be reduced.
Lars Anderson, Wärtsilä Marine Power’s director for Product Management & Sales Support, said: “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.”
Partners aim to provide fast-track hydrogen fuel option