Funding awarded for hydrogen-fuelled USV
SEA-KIT International has secured funding from the Zero Emissions Vessels and Infrastructure (ZEVI) competition to design and manufacture a hydrogen-fuelled uncrewed surface vessel (USV).
The Zero Emissions Ports Hydrogen Refilling Survey Vessel (ZEPHR) project aims to extend vessel operation for port operators and stakeholders through complete energy transferal, from readily accessible green electricity to 100% green hydrogen production, compression, storage and dispensing.
SEA-KIT plans to partner with maritime decarbonization disruptor Marine2o for the building of land-based infrastructure to produce green hydrogen via renewable energy and the electrolysis of water as part of the project.
The vessel will be built at SEA-KIT’s recently expanded production facility in Tollesbury, Essex in the UK.
Engineering design and sustainability company Marine Zero will support Marine2o with regulatory compliance and the design and integration of the dispensing facility.
The Port of London Authority (PLA), a consortium partner, will host the hydrogen refilling station on the River Thames in London and subsequently operate the ZEPHR USV. The vessel is expected to support the PLA in achieving its aim of achieving emissions reduction targets.
“Our support of this exciting project underlines our commitment to creating a Net Zero future on the tidal Thames. Embracing innovation and new fuel technologies utilised on ZEPHR will enable us to be more sustainable and efficient in the production of the essential hydrographic data and products that we provide to all mariners on the Thames,” said John Dillon-Leetch, PLA’s port hydrographer.
“The 5-year project will also support environmental monitoring, academic and industry research programs as well as feeding into the Maritime Hydrogen Highway programme – all key elements of the Thames Vision 2050, supporting the PLA, our partners and stakeholders to deliver on their sustainability goals.”
According to SEA-KIT, the configurable ZEPHR USV platform will have a high-resolution multibeam echosounder as its primary payload, with the capability to mount additional sensors such as LiDAR, cameras and environmental monitoring and sampling equipment. The vessel will also be able to launch and recover aerial drones for surveying, surveillance, search and rescue. ZEPHR will use two hydrogen fuel cell systems for redundancy.
The design will be reviewed with Lloyd’s Register and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to satisfy regulatory and compliance requirements and to obtain approvals for continuous operations.
To remind, SEA-KIT in June last year revealed a new USV design said to be the next step towards the company’s goal of zero-emission vessels. The new USV will be focused on hydrography and environmental data collection.