Application of hydrogen marine systems in high-speed sea
University of Southampton, School of Engineering Sciences,
Conventional marine fuels have always limited the endurance of high-speed ships leading to fast
but inefficient cargo ships. This research considers the fuel weight barrier in high-speed ship
design and the use of hydrogen as a marine fuel to overcome this barrier. Simultaneously, it is
now accepted that environmental pollution from ships, particularly large containerships, contributes
to climate change. Hydrogen marine utilization provides a solution for both. As common to
other hydrogen research the fuel system spans production to utilization. This hydrogen marine
system utilizes an established production method to obtain hydrogen from natural gas through
steam methane reformation. To achieve an acceptable storage volume meeting the typical highspeed
ship dimensions the hydrogen also requires liquefaction. The hydrogen is then converted
onboard into shaft power via combustion in aero-derivative gas turbines. This research establishes
the necessary system components spanning both onshore and ship components. The
novelty of the research has resulted in new design tools.
Research into large hydrogen transport applications is not new and a substantial body of research
is available from passenger aviation studies performed during the 1980s and 1990s. Additionally, a
more current body of research is available describing hydrogen utilization in large gas turbines for
energy and oil/gas industries. This combined research provides the characteristics of the onboard
hydrogen system of a high-speed foil-assisted containership. This ship is capable of transporting
600 industry standard 20’ containers on long-haul ocean routes, i.e. 5000 nautical miles, at a speed
of 64 knots (118.5 km/hr). Such ship performance is not feasible with conventional marine fuels.
The design is complex involving a combination of buoyancy and dynamic lift and two distinct
operational modes at floating and dynamic draughts. Research involving this ship configuration is
included here in conjuction with suitable design methodologies.
Besides technical feasibility, economic feasibility of this containership has also been investigated
based around the unit transport price required to recoup costs and achieve zero net present value.
Such analysis identified that the containership has higher minimum freight rates than conventional
containerships but substantially lower rates than aviation cargo. Due to its high-speed and
improved endurance it can compete with aviation on transport time and price. Economic review
also identified that shorter container door-to-door times are now demanded by the consumer
production industry and this hydrogen marine container transport system meets this demand.
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