The technology group Wärtsilä has entered a joint development agreement with cleantech startup Hycamite TCD Technologies to enable the cost-effective onboard production of hydrogen from liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The concept design is expected to be ready by mid-2023 and the prototype testing unit will be ready during the second half of 2024. It will enable the existing LNG infrastructure to be used and enable the production of hydrogen on board in combination with Wärtsilä’s LNGPac Fuel Gas Supply System. By producing hydrogen on board and blending it with LNG, the companies expect the current range of fuel-flexible Wärtsilä dual-fuel (DF) engines will reduce the vessel’s overall carbon dioxide and methane slip emissions. Alternatively, hydrogen can also be used in onboard fuel cells.
The by-product from the process is solid carbon that – unlike conventional technologies which produce carbon dioxide (CO2 ) as a by-product – can more easily be stored and managed on board. The carbon produced consists of high-grade allotropes, like industrial graphite and carbon nanotubes, thereby offering a possible additional revenue stream. The partners reported that the technology can, in principle, be applied to all vessels operating with LNG fuel. When using bioLNG, this solution enables even power generation on board ships with a negative carbon footprint.
Mathias Jansson, director of fuel gas supply systems at Wärtsilä, said, “We are investing in the development of viable future marine fuel technologies and solutions that can accelerate the efforts to decarbonize shipping operations. This collaboration with Hycamite is an important step forward toward meeting our corporate targets. Our gas engines can already operate with mixtures of hydrogen and LNG. The ability to produce the H2 on board opens up exciting new opportunities. This solution overcomes the lack of an existing hydrogen supply infrastructure. It also supports reducing the safety risks around storing and handling of liquid hydrogen and enables a gradual decrease of the vessels’ environmental impact.”
Laura Rahikka, founder and CEO of Hycamite, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with an established technology leader such as Wärtsilä. They bring a vast depth of knowledge and experience in marine fuel gas supply systems, and by working together, we can make the availability and onboard storage of hydrogen a realistic option for the marine industry.”