Equipment vendors selected for world’s first hydrogen-hybrid research vessel

Naval architecture and marine engineering company Glosten and technology company Siemens Energy have selected clean energy solutions provider Ballard Power Systems and engineering company Chart Industries as primary equipment vendors for their design of what is slated to be the first hydrogen-hybrid research vessel in the world.

Illustration; Archive; Courtesy of Glosten

The vessel, nominally known as the CCRV, is currently in the design phase and will be owned and operated by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps), Glosten said.

Ballard Power Systems will provide the fuel cells which will help power the vessel and Chart Industries will provide the cryogenic tank and fuel gas system where the liquid hydrogen fuel will be bunkered and conditioned for the fuel cells, both said to be essential components of a hydrogen-fuel-cell propulsion system.

According to Glosten, the equipment from Ballard Power Systems and Chart Industries will allow extended zero-emissions operation of the Scripps’ CCRV to help the university meet its goals for clean operations during science missions along the California coast.

Tim Leach, Principal Naval Architect at Glosten, leading the CCRV design effort, commented: “Ballard Power Systems and Chart Industries are known for their expertise in hydrogen technologies, so we felt like they were a natural choice for a hydrogen propulsion system this unique. Their experience will be invaluable to this project and integrate well with the engineering team as they move forward with developing the details of this design.”

Jillian Evanko, CEO and President of Chart Industries, stated: “Chart is very pleased to contribute to this innovative, zero-emissions project. By bringing our extensive hydrogen experience to the maritime world in several international projects, we are able to contribute not only to the fuel transition but also to the development of regulations, risk mitigation and technology for new marine fuels.”

To note, Glosten has supported Scripps with engineering and design work for their oceanographic research fleet for decades.

In 2018, the company was contracted by Sandia National Laboratories to perform a feasibility study of a zero-emission hydrogen-fuel-cell coastal research vessel. The Zero-V concept was developed in collaboration with Scripps, and according to Glosten, validated the coastal hydrogen-hybrid research concept. In 2022, the company was awarded the contract to develop a concept-through-production-level design package for the CCRV.

At the time, it was reported that the vessel would feature a hybrid propulsion system that integrates hydrogen fuel cells alongside a conventional diesel-electric power plant and would be equipped with instruments and sensing systems, including acoustic Doppler current profilers, seafloor mapping systems, midwater fishery imaging systems, biological and geological sampling systems and support for airborne drone operations.