Revolutionary Hydrogen Generator Sets Sail: A New Era for Clean Energy on Vessels

Date: October 03, 2023

By: Daniel G. Teleoaca – Marine Chief Engineer

In a groundbreaking development, the maritime industry is on the brink of a transformation towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. The introduction of hydrogen generators for marine applications onboard vessels promises to revolutionize the way ships operate, reduce emissions, and usher in a new era of environmental responsibility.

Hydrogen, known as the most abundant element in the universe, has long been touted as a clean and efficient energy source. Recent advancements in hydrogen generation technology have paved the way for its adoption in various industries, including maritime. These developments are poised to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of vessels, helping the shipping industry make substantial progress towards achieving its sustainability goals.

Hydrogen is a promising alternative fuel for the maritime sector, as it can provide zero-emission power for various applications, such as main propulsion, electrical generation, and refrigeration. However, one of the main challenges of using hydrogen onboard vessels is the storage and delivery of compressed hydrogen, which requires high pressure, large volume, and complex infrastructure.

A novel solution to this challenge is to generate hydrogen onboard vessels using methanol and water as feedstocks. Methanol is a liquid fuel that can be easily stored and transported at ambient conditions, and water can be sourced from the sea. Methanol and water can be converted to hydrogen and carbon dioxide by a catalytic reforming process, which can then feed a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell to produce electricity and heat.

This technology has been developed by e1 Marine1, a company that specializes in hydrogen on-demand generators for the marine sector. e1 Marine’s M-Series hydrogen generator is a compact and mobile unit that can be installed directly onboard fuel cell vessels. The M-Series can produce up to 50 kg of hydrogen per day, enough to power a 200 kW fuel cell system. The M-Series uses methanol enriched with water, which has up to six times the energy density of compressed hydrogen, providing fuel cell power solutions with significantly reduced cost, increased safety, efficiency, and operational range.

Marine mobile hydrogen generator. Source and Credit: e1 Marine

e1 Marine’s M-Series hydrogen generator has been successfully tested and demonstrated on various vessels, such as inland and coastal ferries, research vessels, and container ships. e1 Marine has also partnered with Maritime Partners2, a leading provider of leasing and financing solutions for the maritime industry, to offer flexible leasing options for vessel operators who want to adopt clean technology for their fleets.

According to Dr. Dave Edlund, the CEO of e1 Marine, “Hydrogen is the ultimate clean fuel for the maritime sector, but it has been hindered by the challenges of storage and delivery. Our M-Series hydrogen generator solves these challenges by producing hydrogen onboard vessels using methanol and water as feedstocks. This technology enables vessel operators to reduce their carbon footprint and comply with the IMO 2030/50 regulations, while also saving on fuel costs and increasing their operational flexibility.”

e1 Marine’s M-Series hydrogen generator is one of the examples of how hydrogen fuel cells can be applied in maritime settings. Other examples include the Zero/V3, a hydrogen fuel-cell coastal research vessel designed by Sandia National Laboratories; the Energy Observer4, an experimental ship that uses renewable energy and seawater electrolysis to generate onboard hydrogen; and the Containerized Hydrogen Generator1, a modularized methanol/fuel cell power solution that can provide zero-emission shore power.

The adoption of hydrogen generators for marine use holds immense promise in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry. Currently responsible for a significant portion of global emissions, the maritime sector has been under increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact.

Hydrogen generator for marine application onboard vessels is a clean and cost-effective solution that can help the maritime sector achieve its decarbonization goals and enhance its competitiveness in the global market.

Source and Credit:

  • e1Marine;
  • Sandia Energy; 

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