Antwerp maritime group Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) has launched its new hydrogen-powered passenger vessel-the Hydroville.
The vessel was christened in Antwerp and commissioned into service on November 29.
The catamaran is a pilot project aimed at testing hydrogen technology for applications in large seafaring ships, CMB said.
The next challenge would be to equip a CMB container ship with a hydrogen-powered auxiliary engine, the company pointed out.
CMB has close to a hundred ships navigating the globe and has launched the project as part of its efforts aimed at making its entire fleet greener.
“The advantage of hydrogen is that no CO2, atmospheric particulate matter or sulfur oxides are released during combustion,” CMB said.
The company explained that it has opted for combustion engines because batteries or fuel cells are less suitable for heavy transport such as shipping.
“The batteries required for an application of this kind would be so huge that their cost and weight would make them economically unfeasible. The time it takes to charge that kind of battery would be problematic as well. Fuel cells offer more possibilities in that area, but the high cost makes them less suitable for large-scale commercial transport. If we want to build green ships or aircraft at present, we will need to focus on biofuel or hydrogen,” CMB continued.
Furthermore, Hydrogen can be extracted from the environment (e.g. from water) in a relatively simple manner.
Hydroville will be used as a base for demonstrating the use of hydrogen in shipping and will be sent out to attend events all around Europe. When not attending events it will serve as a shuttle, commuting daily between Kruibeke and Antwerp on the river Scheldt during peak times, to provide CMB employees with environmentally-friendly transport to and from the office.