“We are the pioneers”: Skipsteknisk on building a hydrogen-powered fishing vessel

Published on
February 1, 2022
Naval architects and engineers at the Norwegian company Skipsteknisk have designed what may be the first hydrogen-powered fishing vessel.

Naval architects and engineers at the Norwegian company Skipsteknisk have designed what may be the first hydrogen-powered fishing vessel, the 70-meter Norwegian longliner Loran. While the vessel will still have conventional diesel engines, it will also have two 185-kW hydrogen fuel cells and a 2,000-kWh battery bank.

“The battery is a kind of buffer in the system,” Skipteknisk Fishing Vessel Sales Manager Inge Bertil Straume said. “The battery stores energy from charging stations at the pier, the hydrogen cells or the diesel engines. It’s hybrid thinking. You have a number of sources, because we are still a decade away from carbon neutral.”

While the engineering is doable, according to Bertil Straume, there remain many unknowns in the use of hydrogen, including sustainability and storage.

“We are the pioneers,” he said. “We haven’t even cut the steel yet for this vessel.”

The 70-meter Norwegian longliner Loran will have multiple propulsion options – diesel and electric power to the main propeller, as well as a retractable azimuth propeller in the bow. The retractable propeller on the Loran is an electric-drive bow thruster that can be lowered into the water and used as an azimuth propeller.

“It will also have a retractable propeller for when they are hauling the longline, and for redundancy, in case something ever happened to the main,” Straume said. “Longliners are kind of the nomads of the sea. They are often far away from the fleet.”

The real challenge with hydrogen is with sustainable generation and storage onboard, according to Bertil Straume.

“The hydrogen system is all above-deck,” he said. “We don’t have any safety standards yet for putting a this below deck.”

According to Straume, the hydrogen will be stored in gas form at 5,000 psi in 10 20-foot tanks aft of the wheelhouse, with the fuel cells close by.

“We also need a way to generate the hydrogen that is cost-effective,” he said. “Right now, if you use 1,000 kW to produce hydrogen by electrolysis, you get 250 kW of hydrogen. No fisherman can make money buying fuel on a 4-to-1 ratio. And when you lose 50 percent of that energy going to the motor, so in the end you get 125 kW for your 1,000 kW.”

The Loran project is subsidized by the Norwegian government and other investors. Enova, an agency of the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and the Environment, put over USD 10 million (EUR 8.9 million) into the project. The hydrogen auxiliary power is expected to reduce fossil fuel use by 40 percent and is seen as a step toward a zero-emissions future. According to the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway plans to cut emissions from shipping by 50 percent before 2030. The International Maritime Organization is calling for a 50 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2008 levels by 2050. But Straume said functional hydrogen power may still be a decade out. Nonetheless, the project’s investors remain optimistic.

“By being the first out with hydrogen, we hope that the new Loran will be one of the vessels that form the basis for a green shift in fishing,” Ståle Otto Dyb, captain of the Loran, told Fiskerforum.

Skipsteknisk has also designed a liquid natural gas (LNG) fueled purse-seiner, the Selvåg Senior, with a 6,400-horsepower Wärtsilä 8V31DF medium-speed engine and a Cummins QSK60 powered genset that will run on regular diesel and be fitted with IMO tier 3 SCR aftertreatment.

“The 31DF is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most-efficient engine in existence,” Wärtsilä Head of Sales Cato Esperø said. “The DF stands for dual fuel. It can run on diesel or LNG and diesel.”

According to Esperø, the mix of LNG and diesel is delivered through different supply lines to a single injector per cylinder.

“In case you run out of LNG, you can run on just diesel,” he said. “To run on just LNG, though, you would still need a pilot fuel of at least 1 percent diesel, or a spark.”

Again, as with hydrogen, storage is an issue – Esperø estimated LNG requires twice the storage space for the same amount of power. But standards exist – at least two LNG-powered fishing vessels are in operation, Esperø said.

“If you look at the density, LNG is not as dense as diesel, and it needs to be stored at minus 173 degrees Celsius. It requires cryonical tanks, which are round. So, you have all that room around them,” Esperø said.

The upside of both hydrogen and LNG fuels is in the exhaust. Hydrogen exhaust is nothing but water and heat, and LNG burns clean.

“The 31DF does not need aftertreatment,” Esperø said. “There is no NOX or SOX in the exhaust, and CO2 is reduced by 20 percent.”

The technology has a long way to go, he said, but is part of an effort to make the world’s fishing fleets carbon neutral.

Reporting by Paul Molyneaux

Image courtesy of Skipsteknisk

National Fisherman is an online resource for commercial fishing professionals, providing access to the latest news and information about the commercial marine industry in a single place.

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500