Ulstein: Hydrogen-powered Offshore Support Vessel Could Set Sail in 2022

Ulstein has launched its first market-ready, hydrogen powered offshore vessel. The SX190 Zero Emission DP2 construction support vessel features a Nedstack fuel cell power system and can be delivered in three years’ time.

The design has been put together by Ulstein Design & Solutions BV and Nedstack Fuel Cell Technology BV. It uses proven and available technology, enabling clean shipping operations to reduce the environmental footprint of offshore projects. CO2, NOX and particle emissions are eliminated when using hydrogen fuel cells. The vessel can cater for a large variety of offshore support operations.

‘The maritime industry needs to align and be ambitious in bringing green solutions forward for a sustainable future,’ says Tore Ulstein, deputy CEO, Ulstein Group. ‘With this hydrogen-fuelled vessel, we aim for future zero-emission operations of long endurance.’ Sea trials of a newbuild SX190 Zero Emission could happen as soon as 2022.

Targeting Zero-emissions for Two Weeks

With today’s technology, the SX190 design is already capable to operate four days in zero-emission mode. However, with the rapid developments in hydrogen storage and fuel cell technologies, a future zero-emission endurance of up to two weeks is targeted. For extended missions and capabilities, the vessel can fall back on its more conventional diesel-electric system using low sulphur marine diesel oil.

Marinised Fuel Cells

The SX190 Zero Emission design is based on Ulstein’s existing SX190 vessel platform and has a total installed power of 7,5 megawatts, of which two megawatts is generated by a fuel cell power system, typically Nedstack Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells, which are located in a separate, second engine room.

PEM fuel cells convert hydrogen and air into electric power, heat and water and produce no harmful emissions in the process. Nedstack fuel cell systems have already been built and proven in the multi-megawatt power ranges and have now been marinised to meet the requirements of the marine industry, including class requirements and supply chains.

No Bunkering Infrastructure Needed for Containerised Hydrogen

The PEM fuel cells used in the SX190 Zero Emission design are fuelled by hydrogen from containerised pressure vessels, a well proven and readily available technology. These hydrogen storage containers can be loaded and unloaded by normal container handling operations and equipment. Hence, eliminating the need for expensive bunkering infrastructure and providing worldwide operational flexibility.

The hydrogen containers can be refilled at hydrogen production sites, either from industry by-product hydrogen or green hydrogen from electrolysis, making the vessel globally employable.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.