Italian classification society RINA has given design approval to Swedish designer FKAB Marine for a new hydrogen-powered MR tanker.

RINA said that FKAB Marine would be designing a hydrogen-powered MR Tanker which would be combining the ship’s LNG fuel with steam to produce hydrogen and CO2.

The MR LNG/hydrogen-fueled vessel is the result of a joint project with ABB and Helbio – a subsidiary of Metacon AB.

“To meet CO2 reduction targets, shipping is faced with the challenge of having solutions which either rely on fossil fuels, but which still require technology to mature, or on new, zero-carbon fuels, the availability of which is still far from being guaranteed,” Antonios Trakakis, Greece Marine Technical Director at RINA, stated.

“This new design enables the use of hydrogen as a fuel today without the need for bunkering and storage onboard and exceeds IMO 2050 targets for 70 percent reduction of carbon intensity,” Trakakis added.

The tanker design is based on combining LNG with steam in a Helbio gas reformer to split LNG molecules into hydrogen and CO2. Hydrogen is then directly used to fuel the internal combustion engines and fuel cells in a hybrid marine power system by ABB. The CO2 is captured by splitting the LNG molecules, rather than from exhaust gas.

“Any solution that aims to reduce a ships’ CO2 emissions today should ensure a competitive Carbon Intensity Index rating, which has increasingly stringent rating thresholds towards 2030, throughout the whole service life of the vessel, not only when getting closer to 2050. This may prove to be a substantial limitation for conventional ships built to be retrofitted after 10-15 years from delivery,” RINA claimed.

Using this design, hydrogen usage can be progressively increased to maintain a top Carbon Intensity Index rating throughout the life of the ship, reducing CO2 emissions in a parallel slope with the applicable regulations.

The ship can meet full decarbonization targets by either running the engine on 100 percent hydrogen or by producing all the power needed by fuel cells. In this way, the owner can decide the rate of CO2 reduction.

Carbon disposal will be a vital technology for the future to meet global decarbonization goals across all sectors. The concept will not require onshore carbon disposal technology to be available before 2032.

“The concept is revolutionary because it does not require any portside hydrogen infrastructure. The hydrogen is created onboard the vessel and all necessary equipment can be easily fitted on deck, so shipowners can convert existing vessels. The fuel cells have been specifically developed to produce more power and fewer emissions,” Andreas Hagberg, Head of Sales and Marketing Department at FKAB, said.

CO2 is liquefied by the cryogenic steam from the LNG and can be used as the inert gas for the tanker. No additional bunkering, aside from normal LNG, is required. The hydrogen produced can be used to power the main engine, fuel cells, or a hybrid of the two. This approval covers the hybrid option.

“Now that the concept has been brought to the real world through an immediately applicable CII A-rated design, this opens the door to reduce emissions in a much shorter timeframe. The [approval] is for an MR tanker, but the technology can be applied to a wide range of vessel types and sizes,” Trakakis concluded.

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