Prospects for hydrogen as a fuel for sea freight took a step forward today, with news that key marine insurers Lloyd’s Register has agreed in principle a market-leading innovation in the field.

Consultant  engineers Ricardo said the Register had given outline approval for the design of its cutting-edge multi-megawatt power plant based on fuel cells.

Lloyds is the leading provider of classification and compliance services to the marine and offshore industries.

Ricardo has developed the hydrogen fuel cells in its role as lead partner on the Europe-wide Sustainable Hydrogen Powered Shipping (sHYpS) project, to which the company contributes its world-leading expertise in the hydrogen value chain.

The sHYpS trial seeks to bring to market a ~500kW net, 375kW gross power fuel cell module, referred to as the RFC500.  Included too is the design of a 40-foot containerised multi-megawatt power plant, capable of combining power from several fuel cell modules.

Lloyd’s provisional blessing for the technology signals the Register’s confidence that it has the potential to satisfy regulatory requirements, and can be used more widely to support decarbonisation across of the wider maritime industry.

Overwhelmingly diesel-burning, maritime shipping is estimated to account for XXX% of manmade climate heating.

The International Maritime Organisation calculated last year that international shipping is responsible for 2.8% of all global GHG emissions.  Though small, increasing seaborne trade around the globe is pushing that share upwards.  Without further action, CO2 emissions from marine freighting are projected to increase from about 90 per cent of 2008 emissions in 2018 to 90–130 per cent of 2008 emissions by 2050, the IMO says.

At its new, purpose-built technical centre at Shoreham on the Sussex coast, Ricardo is now assembling its marine containerisation system. The start of testing its RFC500 module forms a critical element.

Jason Oms O’Donnell, managing director of automotive & industrial for the innovator, said:

“This step represents a significant achievement in our progress to support our customers in the maritime industry with the technology to enable them to deliver on their decarbonisation strategies.

“AiP offers us an opportunity to progress with a roadmap for full regulatory compliance of our containerised solution. It gives confidence for investment and signals that there are no major obstacles to future certification or classification.”

“We are investing in our hydrogen capabilities, and in particular, we are seeing a lot of interest from customers in the maritime, aerospace, and off-highway sectors for the services that we provide. It’s an exciting time to be involved in supporting sustainable mobility, due to the significant changes that are taking place, based on regulatory and legislative requirements. We are very well placed to support our customers with their future decarbonisation journey.”

Rivals to hydrogen as a replacement for diesel in marine engines include e-methanol.  Container giant AP Moller Maersk in 2021 placed orders for up to 12 new freighter powered by the fuel, synthesised in association with biogenic carbon dioxide.



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