Ulstein leads the way in zero-emission offshore construction market

Ulstein leads the way in zero-emission offshore construction market
The Ulstein zero emission vessel. Image courtesy of Ulstein

Ulstein Design & Solutions and Nedstack fuel cell technology have put together the first complete hydrogen fuelled construction support vessel.

The ULSTEIN SX190 Zero Emission DP2 is Ulstein’s first hydrogen powered offshore vessel, featuring a Nedstack fuel cell power system. The DP2 vessel can cater for a large variety of offshore support operations.

This design uses proven and available technology, enabling clean shipping operations to reduce the environmental footprint of offshore projects. CO2, NOx and particle emissions are eliminated when using hydrogen fuel cells.

“The maritime industry needs to align and be ambitious in bringing green solutions forward for a sustainable future. With this hydrogen-fuelled vessel, we aim for future zero-emission operations of long endurance,” said Tore Ulstein, deputy CEO, Ulstein Group. Sea trials of a newbuild ULSTEIN SX190 Zero Emission could happen as soon as 2022.

Technology available today allows the ULSTEIN SX190 design to operate 4 days in zero-emission mode. However, with the rapid developments in hydrogen storage and fuel cell technologies, a future zero-emission endurance of up to two weeks is targeted. For extended missions and capabilities, the vessel can fall back on its more conventional diesel-electric system using low sulphur marine diesel oil.

The ULSTEIN SX190 Zero Emission design is based on Ulstein’s existing SX190 vessel platform and has a total installed power of 7,5 MW, of which 2 MW is generated by a fuel cell power system, typically Nedstack Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells, which are located in a separate, 2nd engine room.

PEM fuel cells convert hydrogen and air into electric power, heat and water and produce no harmful emissions in the process. Nedstack fuel cell systems have already been built and proven in the multi-megawatt power ranges and have now been marinised to meet the requirements of the marine industry, including class requirements and supply chains.

“Ulstein is constantly looking to improve marine operations and to reduce the environmental footprint of the vessels we deliver to the market”, explained Ko Stroo, product manager at Ulstein Design & Solutions. “Implementing fuel cell technology in a workhorse like the SX190 CSV design is one of the steps we take to move the marine industry into a more sustainable future, in addition to our X-BOW hull shape, ULSTEIN ZEDTM‘get-in-and-leave-no-trace solution’ and plug-in hybrid solutions.”

The PEM fuel cells used in the SX190 Zero Emission design are fuelled by hydrogen from containerised pressure vessels, a well proven and readily available technology. These hydrogen storage containers can be loaded and unloaded by normal container handling operations and equipment. Hence, eliminating the need for expensive bunkering infrastructure and providing worldwide operational flexibility.

The hydrogen containers can be refilled at hydrogen production sites, either from industry by-product hydrogen or green hydrogen from electrolysis, making the vessel globally employable.

Ulstein is working closely with suppliers to apply greener technology and is helping shipowners and energy utilities to work together to justify the additional investment needed to lead the way towards zero-emission shipping.