Solar floating island for hydrogen fueling

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Dutch companies SolarDuck and Voyex are looking to construct a prototype ‘solar island’ for the production of hydrogen fuel for marine applications.

The two companies have announced an R&D partnership to develop the system and, according to Koen Burgers, CEO of SolarDuck, “The innovative power lies in combining technologies. If upscaled, a solar island at sea and on rivers can offer the shipping sector a sustainable alternative.”

The test setup will ultimately be installed at Dekker’s facility in IJzendoorn (the tank storage specialist is providing the space for the project), sited on the Waal river in the province of Gelderland. It will consist of four linked platforms containing 39 solar panels each.

SolarDuck states that these modular platforms are suited for the rough conditions found at sea, but will first be tested on the Waal to study the effects of strong currents and heavy winds. “At the beginning of April, the entirety of the solar island will be towed upstream from Gorinchem to Dekker’s riverport in IJzendoorn,” said Burgers. “A unique event in itself.”

The island should be able to generate 65kW of peak power, which will be fed to a 10kW electrolyzer that produces hydrogen. The hydrogen will then be bonded to a liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC), an oil-like liquid that serves as a binding agent, or carrier, for the produced hydrogen. “This ‘hydrogen oil’ can be transported at room temperature, under the same atmospheric conditions as fuels such as diesel,” explained Wiard Leenders, CEO of Voyex. “The carrier itself can be reused.”

The selection of a test location at Dekker’s base in IJzendoorn was a logical one as the company encourages the use of hydrogen for the transport sector. “Our floating sand extracting plants have already been made much more sustainable, however we are still looking for a solution for our fleet,” noted Gert Pomstra, group director of Dekker. “We wholeheartedly support the innovation of SolarDuck and Voyex, and hope this will contribute to making inland shipping more sustainable.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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