How Will Ships Help Save the Environment?
The search for zero emissions is at the forefront of maritime industry development. The regulations on the horizon, limiting the sulphur content in marine fuel, are only the first step in making shipping green. Stricter rules and initiatives will continue going forward, and there are already ways to prepare for a clean and environmentally friendly maritime future. One of them is hydrogen fuel cells that could revolutionise the way vessels are powered.
Companies are already looking into the possibility of fuel-cell technology for ships. A maritime research group Sintef Ocean and the pioneering technology group ABB are collaborating to examine ways fuel cells could power full-sized vessels. The scientists believe that this technology could become competitive with fossil fuels, even when it comes to big vessels. Right now the process is still in the experimentation stage, testing diesel, battery and fuel cell combinations under different loads on a vessel simulator.
As of yet, it is unclear when the research portion of the process will yield tangible results. However, fuel cells have already proven its usefulness in busses, trains, trucks and are receiving significant investments in the automotive industry, paving the way for marine applications. According to ABB, this technology could have an extensive reach in the maritime sector within three to five years after the implementation of the first systems.
Already the industry is moving forward with the idea. Japan’s NYK Group has recently unveiled a new concept ship, the NYK Super Eco Ship 2050. It is designed to be powered by solar energy and hydrogen fuel cells produced from renewable energy sources.
Further along in development, a hydrogen fuel cell powered passenger ferry is being built in the San Francisco Bay Area and is expected to be operational by the end of 2019. The vessel named the Water-Go-Round could possibly become the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell ferry. It will be 70 feet long and able to carry 84 passengers at the speed of 22 knots. Competing for the ‘first of its kind’ title is the HySeas III vessel under construction in Scotland by Ferguson Marine. However, the European vessel is expected to launch only in 2021, but with construction delays in the US or streamlined processes in the UK – both ferries could hit the waters at the same time. At this point, it’s too early to tell which one will become the world’s first.
In any case, the zero-emission maritime future is coming closer with the rapid development of fuel-cell technology. This power source could completely eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and provide considerable advantages to the environment.
Could hydrogen fuel cells become the preferred source for marine propulsion in the future? Ask shipowners, maritime experts and high-level shipping professionals at the 4th International Green & Smart Shiping Summit in Rotterdam on 8-9 October. The event will have presentations, panel discussions, a focus exhibition and networking breaks where you will have direct access to key industry innovators and leading decision-makers. Find out everything you need to know about the future of shipping by attending. Register now: www.gssummit.org.