Science will send robotic crew equipped vessels to Jupiter to bomb negative atoms of hydrogen and store as most possible of hydrogen and give it back to Earth for future generations; maybe someday. On planet earth, hydrogen is the future power of electricity and alternative fuel power especially in the marine industry, shipping, and luxury yachting. Inspired by the magnificent project of Aqua by Sander J. Sinot and Lateral Naval Architects, we all need to nudge the industry through our humble voice. The maritime industry is at a crossroads anyway. Projects of LNG conversions are transforming the marine industry towards green operations however the maritime industry has reached a point in its history where it must choose the right path to achieve its decarbonization goals. In particular, the climate strategy of the International Maritime Organization aims to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. However, the maritime world has not yet defined a strategy to achieve this.
In order to drive the industry into the future, the engineers and the role of technology in developing sophisticated solutions for reducing emissions, rethinking ships and reinventing the industry were put under a lot of strain. However, the key factor for the big leap into a less polluted future is emission-free fuels, which was discovered in fuel gas known as Hydrogen. Hydrogen plays an important role in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and eliminating sulfur and heavy metals from maritime activities. By weight, hydrogen is a very energy-tight, completely clean fuel. The only by-product is water. It is also very adaptable also hydrogen source can be used in auxiliary fuel cells in addition to internal combustion engines, burners and turbines for propulsion. Nonetheless, all systems on board have to follow a new philosophy and this means excessive costs for just adoptions and installments. Moreover, they are all more in the experimental phase and we need to run miles until achievement on a large scale.
Besides maritime hydrogen, ashore, all seems different in applicable models of the hydrogen economy. The production of hydrogen is simple but not affordable. The attraction of hydrogen is that it is clean: the only waste during combustion is pure water. No CO₂ is released into the atmosphere. However, hydrogen gas does not occur naturally, so we can easily access it. For example, it must be made by reacting natural gas with steam or using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The production of hydrogen requires enormous amounts of energy. If you use fossil fuels to generate this energy, you emit CO₂ into the atmosphere and lose your purpose. You have to use renewable energy such as wind or solar energy, otherwise, it will only make things worse. Renewable energy prices have dropped, so this is a viable option for hydrogen production. The hydrogen economy is growing slowly in different parts of the world. A great example of the Hydrogen economy is the Orkney Islands.
The Orkney Islands off the northeast coast of Scotland produce a high percentage of their electricity needs. They use excess wind and tidal power to generate hydrogen, which is used to heat local buildings and to fuel vans and ferries. Japanese automakers are now investing heavily in hydrogen filling stations, and London is using public hydrogen buses. Hydrogen is also used in large vehicles. Germany has launched the world’s first hydrogen train while Wärtsilä is working with the Norwegian transport company Boreal Sjø to develop a hydrogen ferry in Norway.
The life cycle of a fuel cell is short for marine applications. Hydrogen is difficult to handle and may need to be kept cold or under pressure. Hydrogen has a low energy density, so you need larger tanks to have the same capacity as LNG. The challenges seem daunting, but hydrogen is versatile in its ability to be an energy source. Hydrogen could be the zero-emissions fuel for the shipping industry strives for. It is ideal to note that hydrogen is an emission-free fuel since the product of its combustion is only water vapor. As already explained, hydrogen is already driving various modalities in countries such as California, Japan and all over Europe in sectors such as automobiles, buses, trains, and planes, but has so far become more prevalent in the marine environment.
Recently, some projects have examined hydrogen as a marine fuel in the passenger transport industry, mainly ferries. Especially last September, a cruise ship owner, Viking Cruises, unveiled plans for a liquid hydrogen cruise ship, and earlier this year, Ferguson Marine announced plans to develop the world’s first renewable energy hydrogen ferry – HySeas III. However, one of the main disadvantages of a stronger adoption of the technology is the storage and supply challenges, since hydrogen must be kept at minus 253 degrees to prevent evaporation. There are three ways to use hydrogen for production: direct combustion in an engine to directly drive propellers or a diesel-electric transmission, combustion to drive a steam turbine and use a fuel cell. Note that all these methods have been successfully tested. However, the question remains whether hydrogen really becomes the dominant form of force in the marine sector? What infrastructure is available to support widespread use? And even if it is safe to store in large quantities?
Hydrogen is also a fuel and therefore, like any fuel, contains a high level of energy. However, many engineers have spent hundreds of years properly designing compressed combustible gases. Hydrogen must be handled very safely. It is a challenge to be able to react clearly to every point of a certification body and at the same time to integrate everything on the ship which makes hydrogen the future source of power in the marine sector. Hydrogen and energy have a long history in relation to the motorization of the first internal combustion engines over 200 years ago, which have become an integral part of the modern refinery industry. It is light, storable, energy-tight and does not produce any direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases. However, for hydrogen to make a significant contribution to the switch to clean energy, it must be used in sectors where it is almost completely lacking, such as marine, buildings and power generation. Ships that rely on heavy oil today should try to switch directly to hydrogen instead of simply adapting to compliant low-sulfur bunker oil. The environmental forces are clearly there to fundamentally change fuel sources in the marine industry, and hydrogen appears to be a big winner. The future of hydrogen provides an in-depth, independent study of hydrogen that explains where things are. Ways that hydrogen can help ensure a clean, safe and affordable energy future; and how we can realize its potential. We have miles to run, and we are always thankful for the brilliant minds working on science to succeed in the green solutions for the industry and the globe. Thank you, Norway.