The second phase of a project to design the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell (MHFC) tug has been launched by Svitzer. Having carried out technical studies to establish the feasibility of the vessel type, Svitzer will work with naval architect Robert Allan to design the MHFC tug.
The next phase includes work to complete the vessel design, scope considerations for vessel construction and onboard equipment selection necessary to build the vessel. An electrical propulsion system consisting of methanol fuel cells and batteries will be installed to ensure the tugboat can carry out longer operations without the operational constraints of battery-powered vessels.
Backup power – if required – will be provided by secondary methanol-fueled generators. It is estimated that when running on green methanol, the MHFC would stop approximately 1,300 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year compared to fossil-fuel-based vessels of the same dimensions within Svitzer’s fleet.
Svitzer’s TRAnsverse tug design will be used as the platform for the MHFC. Moving forward, Svitzer aims to form partnerships to finalize the onboard equipment.
The MHFC is estimated to enter operations in the second half of 2025 at the Port of Gothenburg in Sweden.
“We’re excited to enter the next phase of delivering the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell tug,” explained Gareth Prowse, head of decarbonization, Svitzer. “This project is a major milestone in Svitzer’s commitment to the decarbonization of our global fleet and demonstrates our ability to harness new technologies and alternative fuels to deliver innovations that will have a significant, positive impact on shipping’s road to net zero.
“The combination of fuel cell technology and green methanol will result in improved operational efficiencies, resulting in less fuel consumption and lower emissions. We’re delighted to be collaborating with Robert Allan. to design the MHFC tug and look forward to bringing on new partners to construct the vessel which will operate at the Port of Gothenburg in Sweden.”
“Robert Allan is excited to be working with Svitzer to develop the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell tug,” said Jim Hyslop, director, project development principle at Robert Allan. “Based on the award-winning TRAnsverse design, the innovative propulsion system on this new tug will enable operation completely free of fossil fuels. This is a major step forward in the path to decarbonizing the tug industry, and we are extremely proud to be at the forefront of developments in these new technologies.”