Western Australia-headquartered Global Energy Ventures (ASX: GEV) has begun the development of a pilot-scale compressed hydrogen cargo ship with a capacity of 430 tonnes of hydrogen.
The company hopes to develop an operating fleet of hydrogen carriers by the mid-2020’s and the development program is targeting American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Approval in Principle (AIP) in Q3 2021 and Full Class Approvals late in 2022.
The 430-tonne ship specification will be a scaled version of a 2,000-tonne C-H2 ship (which received AIP in March 2021) and benefits from the engineering and HAZID studies already completed.
The downstream market application for pilot scale volumes of green hydrogen include injection of hydrogen into existing natural gas pipelines (i.e. blending). Regions with aspirations to develop a hydrogen economy are likely to turn to grid injection as a means of cultivating a market and stimulating investment into supply, the company reckons.
Martin Carolan, Managing Director and CEO commented: “GEV’s design and development strategy for the 2,000-tonne ship proved that large commercial scale C-H2 ships are possible and paved the way for the development of a pilot-scale version. The 430-tonne ship is an ideal size to meet the needs of the current emerging H2 [hydrogen] marine transportation industry and will ensure we establish ourselves in the marine transportation of green hydrogen.
A pilot-scale ship will be complementary to partner discussions and GEV’s target to develop a fully integrated green hydrogen supply chain from Northern Australia. This includes GEV’s own renewable energy project to produce green hydrogen based on a specific customer use case, delivered with our own C-H2 ships.
The company said that blending is an attractive source of near-term demand for hydrogen at low blend volumes due to low incremental costs and aligns with C-H2’s modular approach for production scale-up. The scale of a 430 tonne ship can alleviate the additional infrastructure requirements that a liquefaction or ammonia project will require to deliver a pure hydrogen gas to the end user. Regions with aspirations to develop a low-carbon hydrogen economy are likely to turn to grid injection as a means of cultivating a market and stimulating investment into supply.”
GEV has assembled a team with a successful track record of achieving AIP and the expertise to take the C-H2 ship through to Full Class Approvals with ABS by the end of 2022. More details will be provided on the key milestones in the coming quarters.”
About the development programme and the ship
The company has appointed Capilano Maritime, C-FER Technologies, Tekkara Project Services and American Bureau of Shipping for the engineering, design and safety analysis required to achieve class approval.
The work program which commenced on June 1, 2021, will also focus on material selection, welding specifications and prototype design for the required ABS testing program, which will occur in 2022.
The proprietary design for the containment system is made up of two large circular 12m diameter tanks, contained within the hull of the ship, that will store ambient temperature hydrogen at an operating pressure of 250 bar.
The 430-tonne containment system fits within a Handymax sized vessel which reduces the development time and cost, maintains a practical ship draft of 9 metres, and optimises the scale of the ship to match hydrogen production volumes. A smaller capacity ship aligns with opportunities under review for European and Asia Pacific demand centres for downstream applications such as grid injection (blending) and fuel cells, the company indicated.
One of the key considerations in designing a steel tank for storing hydrogen, is that the hydrogen molecule is so small it can enter the steel’s molecular structure and over time can cause the steel to suffer from embrittlement. Embrittlement is managed in GEV’s design by providing a liner such as stainless steel that prevents the steel structure from becoming damaged by the hydrogen.
The stainless steel liners will be surrounded by multiple high-strength steel layers. In addition to protecting against embrittlement, this layered approach has several advantages, the company says. These are:
• the individual layers are capable of being economically produced with the appropriate mechanical properties (the wall thickness of a single layer tank of this dimension would be outside the normal range of steel plate production)
• each layer can be formed easily to shape at the shipyard
• should a fatigue crack initiate it cannot grow beyond the layer in which it originated.
Propulsion will be electric drive supported by the rapid advancements in hydrogen blended generation and hydrogen fuel cells. GEV intends to fuel the ship with hydrogen from the storage tanks, providing a ‘zero-carbon’ shipping solution. The C-H2 ship will be equipped with dynamic positioning for rapid connect and disconnect of near-shore buoys.