CMB puts hydrogen at heart of future plans

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 12 August 2019


Belgian ship operator CMB has followed up its July acquisition of hydrogen engineering specialist RTL with the announcement of three developments that put hydrogen at the front of the company’s research development.

While operation of large commercial vessels remains the core business of CMB its CMB Technologies division has been involved in developing the use of hydrogen as a marine fuel for some time. Last week the company announced that BeHydro, its joint venture with Belgian engine manufacturer ABC, is making plans to commercialise hydrogen fuelled marine engines.

CMB said that the first hydrogen medium speed engine should be avaialble in the course of 2020. Engines currently under development have a power range between 0,8 and 2.8 MW and are available in 6, 8, 12 and 16 cylinder configurations.

BeHydro was established last September to develop and commercialise dual-fuel diesel and hydrogen engines, as well as mono-fuel hydrogen engines. The engines are aimed at tugs, ferries and other small craft and for use as auxiliaries on larger ships.

CMB followed up the announcement of the planned engines with plans for two projects for new vessels involving other organisations.

In one project, CMB and Japan-based Tsuneishi Facilities & Craft (TFC) will work together to build the world’s first passenger ferry powered by a dual fuel hydrogen-diesel internal combustion main engine. The announcement said that after receiving the necessary regulatory approval, the ship will be built at TFC’s facilities in Onomichi, Japan and is expected to be delivered in 2021.

By combining TFC’s state-of-the-art shipbuilding capabilities and CMB Technologies’ extensive knowhow in marine hydrogen systems, both parties hope to build a revolutionary ship that will be a milestone in the journey towards zero carbon emission shipping. This new development also supports Japan’s vision to become a leading hydrogen society by 2050.

In the second project CMB Technologies and Windcat Workboats plan to develop hydrogen-powered crew transfer vessels for use in Dutch offshore wind farms. The hydrogen CTV – named HydroCat – will be able to transport 24 service engineers from the coast to the offshore windmill farms at a cruise speed of 25kn, propelled by 2 x 1000 horsepower and will consume 170 kg of hydrogen per day.

Vattenfall has signed a contract with Windcat Workboats for the provision of crew transfer vessels (CTVs) for the Hollandse Kust Zuid 1 & 2 offshore wind farm in the Dutch North Sea. Under the agreement, Vattenfall will be one of the first users of Windcat's hydrogen-powered vessels, currently being developed. The IJmuiden-headquartered vessel operator is working with CMB Technologies on the vessel development, which is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2020.

The contract comes as Vattenfall has selected the Port of IJmuiden as the home base for O&M activities for the 700MW project.

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