The marine sector is responsible for 3.3% of global CO2 production, with figures from the European Environment Agency (EEA) suggesting that this will rise significantly, if the marine industry does nothing to reduce its environmental impact. It is therefore critical that the sector develops and deploys new forms of low emission propulsion systems to mitigate further environmental harm.
The HyDIME – Hydrogen and Diesel Injection in a Marine Environment – project was launched as a feasibility study to explore how hydrogen technologies could be safely integrated in the marine industry. In particular, the project looked at how this could be achieved onboard a commercial ferry operating between Shapinsay and Kirkwall in Orkney. A ferry with a dual diesel/hydrogen system would be the first of its kind in the world, provide a precedent for the wider marine industry and an example that could be replicated in other regions.
The Challenges in Embracing Hydrogen Propulsion to Limit Emissions
According to a recent Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCHJU) report, the development of hydrogen-based propulsion systems offers a potentially viable solution to reducing marine emissions, whilst mitigating concerns around range anxiety and long charge and refuelling times of other electric and hybrid- based powertrains. The study reports that a hydrogen ferry would expel approximately 1,250 tons of CO2 less annually than a traditional ferry.
A hydrogen ferry would expel approximately 1,250 tons of CO2 less annually than a traditional ferry.
However, before the wider marine sector can harness hydrogen as an energy source, several critical challenges need to be overcome:
Concerns need to be addressed over the safety and volatility of hydrogen; Regulators need to be assured of the safe application of the hydrogen technology;
The technology behind marine-based hydrogen systems needs to be developed and matured;
The infrastructure needs to be developed to enable clean hydrogen production and widely distributed refuelling;
The installation of larger hydrogen systems needs to be de-risked; Demonstrators are needed to prove the economic, environmental, and social benefits to businesses and communities.
HyDIME as a Stepping-Stone Project Towards Hydrogen-Fuelled Marine Vessels
The HyDIME project built upon previous successful projects to augment their results. The “Surf n’ Turf” project in Orkney showed that the excess energy produced from wind and tidal turbines can be harnessed and channelled through an electrolyser to produce hydrogen at the Shapinsay port. The “SWISH2 & LHNE” project proved the feasibility and viability of a dual hydrogen and diesel injection system on road applications. HyDIME sought to combine the results of these two projects and design, integrate, and trial the world’s first dual hydrogen / diesel injection system onboard a commercial vessel in Orkney, using hydrogen generated at the Shapinsay port.
HSSMI, alongside project management and dissemination responsibilities, led the work on developing a Scale Up and Exploitation Plan. During the early stages of the project, HSSMI engaged with project partners and wider stakeholders to collect data on the existing hydrogen production system, the current diesel consumption figures of the auxiliary power unit and the anticipated hydrogen requirements of the retrofitted diesel/hydrogen system. This data allowed HSSMI to create a detailed simulation model, which was then used to explore various scale up scenarios. These scenarios included increasing the systems hydrogen production by adding to the number of renewable assets and increasing the hydrogen consumption by varying the diesel displacement or by adding additional dual fuel vessels to the fleet.
The outcome of this work was a Scale Up and Exploitation Plan, which focused on two key aspects:
– The economic, environmental, social, and operational impacts of the proposed system and the best means of scaling up hydrogen production and consumption on the Orkney islands;
– The potential opportunities for replicating the same model in other regions of the UK.
Overall, HyDIME was successful in proving the feasibility of integrating a hydrogen injection system onto a marine vessel. HyDIME proved to be a stepping-stone in accelerating and de-risking future hydrogen marine projects and contributed towards growing the hydrogen economy in the UK. Since the culmination of the project, the results of HyDIME have been taken up by other research projects, which continue to explore how hydrogen propulsion technologies can be integrated into the marine sector.
HyDIME was a collaborative research project led by Ferguson Marine, together with EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre), Orkney Island Council, ULEMCo, Lloyd’s Register, and HSSMI, and carried out with funding from Innovate UK.
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