The Finnish technology group Wärtsilä, together with class society RINA other stakeholders, is working on delivering a solution with hydrogen as fuel.

The other stakeholders include ABB, Helbio, a subsidiary of Metacon AB, the Liberian Registry, and an energy major.

Their goal is to have a solution to exceed the IMO 2050 target for a 70 per cent CO2 reduction. Also, the aim is to achieve this without the need for extensive infrastructure investment. This would offer the shipping industry a way to low-carbon operations within a reasonable time frame.

The new concept will support the marine sector’s transition from LNG to hydrogen; without any major adjustments to a vessel’s onboard technologies.

Current difficulties and costs regarding H2 use have so far limited the interest in its direct use as a marine fuel. However, by producing hydrogen onboard, and using readily available LNG, the solution becomes far more viable.

“Our gas engines are already able to use mixtures of hydrogen and LNG, and our future efforts will be to reach 100% hydrogen fuel,” said Lars Anderson from Wärtsilä. He also added that the company is ready to support the decarbonisation of shipping operations in any way.

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From LNG to hydrogen fuel

The concept is based on combining LNG with steam to produce hydrogen and CO2. The hydrogen will be used directly in a mix with natural gas in internal combustion engines or in fuel cells. Thus, this is eliminating the need for hydrogen storage onboard. The CO2 will be liquefied using the cryogenic stream of LNG that would serve as fuel anyway. Later, it will be disposed of ashore for carbon storage.

Furthermore, tankers can use the stored CO2 as inert gas during discharge.

The necessary equipment can easily fit on the deck of a commercial vessel. LNG bunkering will meet the requirements.

Wärtsilä and ABB will support the application of hydrogen in powering internal combustion engines and fuel cells respectively, while Helbio will provide the technology and manufacturing of gas reformers. RINA and the Liberian Registry will provide advice and guidance on the application of rules and regulations for novel concept alternative designs, based on Hazid/Hazop analyses, as well as specific rules for this kind of arrangement.

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