ICCT Technical Workshop on Zero Emission Vessel Technology – Summary

On Tuesday and Wednesday, July 9-10th the ICCT Technical Workshop on Zero Emission Vessel Technology was held at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, CA. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss technology pathways and barriers to zero-emission international shipping to help identify related research, development, and demonstration needs. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) was the first to expose the VW cheating scandal with emissions testing. The global organization’s mission is to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of road, marine, and air transportation, in order to benefit public health and mitigate climate change. The backdrop of this workshop is the International Maritime Organization (IMO) desires to fully decarbonize the shipping sector by 2100, and decrease emissions from global shipping by at least 50% from 2008 levels by 2050. With 90% of global trade moving over the water, the challenge of reducing emissions is great. Synthetic fuels, such as synthetic methane from hydrogen, will play a key role in achieving short term emissions goals while hydrogen fuel cells could be the vessel propulsion for large ships on the longer time horizon. The World Shipping Council is working with ICCT on research which lead to holding this workshop, which will be part of a series of workshops on the technical challenges of developing and implementing zero emission vessels. A workshop summary document will be prepared to inform ongoing discussions at the IMO on funding for zero- and low-carbon technologies for international shipping

Ship building is different than any other type of transportation as ships last between 25-30 years. Therefore, the environmental regulations for 2050 have in impact on ship building today. Shipping companies are planning for a much greener fleet, thus is the reason the IMO released it’s 2050 ambition target in 2018. For “green shipping” with zero emissions, hydrogen technology is a possible way forward. Other near-zero and zero emission technologies all have their difficulties on the path to building a zero emission vessel. Batteries required for long range shipping are too large and too heavy; there is not enough surface area on a ship for solar; and nuclear is too expensive and no longer trusted in the public eye. LNG is not advisable due to methane slip during production, storage and combustion while the GHG savings for using LNG are almost zero. There is not enough bio fuel available to provide the amount of fuel necessary to supply the entire shipping industry. Ammonia is highly toxic along with having ADR complexity, and produces more NOx during combustion then diesel.

Currently the use of hydrogen in shipping is hampered by cost, lack of fueling infrastructure and lack of experience in the sector with the technology. While waiting for solutions to the barriers of using zero emission hydrogen fuel cell drive systems, a dual fuel with hydrogen diesel combustion can ease in the relatively new fuel. Recent testing on a Volvo marine engine with a 50% hydrogen/diesel mixture results in 60% less CO2 emissions. It’s possible to move on to pure hydrogen combustion for 98% emission reduction then eventually move to 100% emission reduction using fuel cells once proven enough to get the large shipping companies to buy in. This would allow for the build-up of hydrogen infrastructure in ports for use on vessels today. It takes 15-20MW and up to 40MW of power to turn a container vessel propeller. The fuel required for that much fuel cell power will need to be liquid hydrogen for space and weight reasons. Liquid hydrogen storage is necessary when requiring to go fast or far on the water. A recent study on the feasibility of a fuel cell research vessel called the ZERO-V was performed by Sandia National Laboratory and was given the approval in principal by Glosten Naval Architecture firm. To perform the required research for Scripps Oceanographic Institute, the vessel needs to be out at sea for 14 days with a range of 2,400 nautical miles. There was not enough space for gaseous hydrogen onboard, therefore liquid hydrogen was chosen.

Other than cost, infrastructure and experience, what holds back hydrogen in the maritime industry globally is the lack of codes and standards. To develop the required codes and standards there needs to be hydrogen fuel cell systems installed and in place to study and develop codes and standards around. The World Shipping Council just this week proposed creation of the International Maritime Research Board to look deeper into the development and pilot of larger zero emission vessels. Locally in California there is great interest in zero emission vessels by the San Pedro Bay Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Vessel emissions are a major sticking point in the emission reduction efforts by both ports. To aid in this effort SCAQMD wants to get the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports along with a group of Pacific ports involved in incentivizing cleaner ships, eventually to near-zero and zero emission ships, by offering a financial payment for vessels calling upon these ports. The idea being the clean ship would stay on the routes offering that incentive, collecting the payments to help offset the cost of the clean technology.

The road to zero emission vessels is a long one but with the advancements in marine fuel cells and demonstrations like the Water-Go-Round hydrogen fuel cell ferry project by Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine, the future of fuel cell powered shipping may not be that far in the future after all.

The ICCT will be posting the agenda, presentations, and workshop summary on their website within about two weeks time from the workshop date.