A partnership between class society RINA and several technology providers will aim to deliver a hydrogen-based maritime fuel solution which will exceed IMO (International Maritime Organisation) 2050 targets to reduce carbon intensity by 70% without requiring a significant investment in infrastructure.

Due to existing costs of producing, distributing, and storing hydrogen on board ships, the proposal to come to a sustainable solution that involves using readily available liquefied natural gas (LNG) to produce hydrogen on board vessels could see IMO targets met in a much shorter time frame.

The companies involved in the proposal include Wärtsilä and ABB – supporting the application of hydrogen in powering internal combustion engines and fuel cells, Helbio – providing the technology and manufacturing of the reformer, the Liberian Registry and RINA – both of which will provide advice and guidance on rules and regulations. 

By combining the natural gas used by the vessel as fuel with steam, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide (CO2) can be produced and utilised. 

To mitigate storage costs, the hydrogen can be used directly in internal combustion engines or fuel cells, while the CO2 can be liquefied by the cryogenic stream of LNG before being stored to be used for either storage or utilisation once ashore. 

It’s possible for the technology required to be fitted on the deck of a vessel at drydocks with transition times dependent on the scale required, with just LNG bunkering being necessary. 

The concept supports the idea of LNG being used as a fuel to ‘bridge the gap’ to hydrogen from fossil fuels in the shipping industry.