Wednesday, May 22, 2024

UK government backs world’s first liquid hydrogen autonomous vessel project

A consortium led by ACUA Ocean, a British maritime cleantech startup, in partnership with zero-emission infrastructure provider Unitrove, has won a multi-million-pound UK government grant in a major push to decarbonize the maritime sector.

The “Hydrogen Innovation – Future Infrastructure & Vessel Evaluation and Demonstration (HI-FIVED)” consortium will receive over £3.8 million of funding to build and showcase its innovative autonomous vessel and bunkering infrastructure technologies for liquid hydrogen.

The £5.4 million project is expected to be delivered in autumn 2024. It aims to establish a domestic green shipping corridor between Aberdeen and the Orkney and Shetland Islands, with hydrogen-powered autonomous ships being used to transport cargo.

ACUA Ocean is the one who will be building the autonomous vessels. And Unitrove, which claims to have developed the world’s first liquid hydrogen bunkering facility, will work with the Port of Aberdeen to set up the refueling infrastructure.

In 2022, ACUA Ocean launched what claimed to be the world’s first hydrogen-powered drone surface vessel (H-USV), which won the CMDC2 competition. The vessel would be powered by 6,000 liters of liquid hydrogen and be able to handle between 40 and 60 days at sea, cruising at only four knots (4.6 mph). This same H-USV is a part of this new project, coupled with the mobile fueling technology developed by Unitrove.

The University of Southampton, plus several other industry players, such as Trident Marine Electrical, Zero Emissions Maritime Technology, Composite Manufacturing and Design, and NASH Maritime, will also give a helping hand.

The project, part of the UK Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, is being partly funded by grants from the Department for Transport and is being delivered by Innovate UK. As part of the CMDC3, 19 projects will be awarded a total of £60 million to deliver real-world demonstration R&D projects in clean maritime solutions.

The CMDC3 is part of the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions’ (UK SHORE) flagship multi-year CMDC program. In March 2022, UK SHORE – a new division within the Department for Transport that’s supposed to be 100% about decarbonizing maritime transportation and shipping – got £206 million. This is the country’s largest government investment ever made in commercial maritime transportation.