Funding has been awarded to two maritime projects to develop an emission-free hydrogen hybrid 1MW inboard propulsion system for large vessels and design a ship that uses this system to aid in decarbonizing the maritime sector.
Led by Ecomar Propulsion and supported by O.S. Energy and the University of Exeter’s Centre for Future Clean Mobility, the project’s funding is provided by the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition run by Innovate UK and funded by the Department for Transport.
During the first project, Ecomar Propulsion will be responsible for constructing the hydrogen hybrid 1MW inboard powertrain and incorporating electrolyzers and bespoke control systems for large vessels. A physical model of the zero-emission powertrain will be built at Ecomar Propulsion’s research facility in Hampshire, UK. The group aims to demonstrate the clean powertrain to aid in a transition to cleaner forms of propulsion for the marine industry.
“A megawatt is a huge amount of power but it only a stepping-stone to bigger systems that ships require” said Eugene Bari, CEO and founder, Ecomar Propulsion. “We are confident that we can build this larger demonstrator within the next 10 months. It’s going to be a game changer for the industry.
“The plan is not only to provide a big powerplant but to fuel it with hydrogen that is made on the ship itself,” added Bari. “We are doing this with a series of wind turbines that generate hydrogen from onboard electrolyzers and also trickle charge the batteries. The ship sets off fully charged with full hydrogen tanks but as it does its work the energy systems are constantly replenished which means they can stay out for longer and reduce the cost of operation.”
The second project, named Project Zero, will involve designing a ship which utilizes Ecomar’s zero-emission propulsion system. The electric and hydrogen hybrid system will also be designed to be able to run on methanol, ammonia and other fuels. The project will include designing all naval architecture, propulsion systems and operator inputs. The 1MW powertrain is expected to enable a 10-day operating range.
The newly made vessel will then be used for windfarm support operations in the UK and for offshore renewable energy projects in Europe. The consortium consists of O.S. Energy, Ecomar Propulsion, Newcastle Marine Services, Solis Marine, Chartwell Marine and Cedar Marine, in addition to experts from Strathclyde University, and Exeter University’s Centre for Future Clean Mobility.
“O.S. Energy is actively driving the integration of ship energy efficiency optimization and advanced maritime propulsion systems with the aim of facilitating a step-by-step progression towards zero-emission ship operation within UK waters,” said Martin Nuernberg, director of O.S. Energy. “The combination of a design and demonstration project allows us to accelerate the deployment of innovative UK technology on a purpose-built ship and prove the operational capabilities.”