Wärtsilä envisions ‘cost-effective’ hydrogen from LNG

By Jack Burke28 November 2022

Existing onboard infrastructure to be repurposed

Wärtsilä has entered into a joint development agreement with Hycamite TCD Technologies to develop cost-effective production of hydrogen from LNG onboard marine vessels.

The concept design will be ready by mid-2023 and the prototype testing unit will be ready during the second half of 2024. Hycamite TCD Technologies is a privately-owned Finnish company specializing in the development of a technology for producing clean hydrogen and solid carbon from methane.

Wärtsilä is partnering with cleantech start-up Hycamite to develop technology for onboard production of hydrogen from LNG. Image: Wärtsilä

The concept that the two companies are working on will allow the existing LNG infrastructure to be utilized and enable production of hydrogen onboard in combination with Wärtsilä’s LNGPac Fuel Gas Supply System. By producing hydrogen onboard and blending it with LNG, the current range of fuel flexible Wärtsilä dual-fuel (DF) engines can reduce the vessel’s overall carbon dioxide and methane slip emissions. Alternatively, the hydrogen can also be used in fuel cells onboard.

The by-product from the process is solid carbon that, unlike conventional technologies which produce carbon-dioxide (CO2) as a by-product, can more easily be stored and managed onboard, the companies said. The carbon produced consists of high-grade allotropes, like industrial graphite and carbon nanotubes, thereby offering a possible additional revenue stream.

“We are investing in the development of viable future marine fuel technologies and solutions that can accelerate the efforts to decarbonise shipping operations,” said Mathias Jansson, director, Fuel Gas Supply Systems, Wärtsilä. “This collaboration with Hycamite is an important step forward towards meeting our corporate targets. Our gas engines can already operate with mixtures of hydrogen and LNG. The ability to produce the H2 onboard opens up exciting new opportunities. This solution overcomes the lack of an existing hydrogen supply infrastructure. It also supports reducing the safety risks around storing and handling of liquid hydrogen and enables a gradual decrease of the vessels’ environmental impact.”

The technology can in principle be applied for all vessels operating with LNG fuel. When using bioLNG, this solution enables even power generation on board ships with a negative carbon footprint.

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