Korea Shipbuilding gets AIP for world’s 1st large liquefied hydrogen carrier design

South Korean shipbuilder Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE) and its shipyard Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) have received approval in principle (AIP) for the design of a large commercial liquefied hydrogen carrier.

The AIP — described as the world’s first for this vessel type — has been granted by the Korean Register of Shipping (KRS) as class society and the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR) as flag state.

Image Courtesy: KSOE/LISCR

As explained, the approval paves the way for the shipbuilder to begin accepting orders for liquefied hydrogen carriers in the future.

The 20,000 cbm vessel was jointly developed by KSOE, HMD and Hyundai Glovis, a Seoul-based logistics company and part of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group. KSOE developed a liquefied hydrogen cargo treatment system and a hydrogen boil off gas (BOG) treatment system using fuel cells. HMD advanced the basic design of the ship. Hyundai Glovis and G-Marine Service analyzed the economics and safety of liquefied hydrogen during storage and transportation.

This ship design is characterized by the use of a double-structured vacuum insulated tank to improve insulation and minimize hydrogen BOG generated during operation. In addition, by adopting an electric propulsion system, hydrogen BOG can be used as fuel for fuel cells in the future.

Specifically, the ship can carry large quantities of hydrogen after reducing its gas-state volume by 1/800 and then liquefying it under minus 253 degrees Celsius. Since hydrogen liquefies at a cryogenic temperature which is lower than LNG that liquefies at minus 163 degrees Celsius, a liquefied hydrogen carrier needs advanced cryogenic technology to stably preserve it.

“It is meaningful that shipbuilding and shipping companies have cooperated to secure the growth engine of the future hydrogen economy era,” an official from KSOE said.

“We will actively pioneer overseas large-capacity hydrogen transportation market based on advanced technology”.

The AIP comes almost eleven months after the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier was launched in Japan. The 8000-ton unit is owned by CO2-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-chain Technology Research Association (HySTRA), formed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Iwatani Corporation (Iwatani), Shell Japan Limited, and Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. (J-POWER) in 2016, with the aim of promoting hydrogen as a fuel source.

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According to the Hydrogen Council, hydrogen represents a central pillar of the energy transformation required to limit global warming. It can play several major roles in this transformation and one of them is decarbonizing transportation. Namely, hydrogen can be considered as a possible solution for future zero-carbon marine vessels as it offers the highest energy content per mass when compared to other fuels, high diffusivity and high flame speed.

The market for hydrogen and hydrogen technologies is estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050, creating 30 million jobs globally and taking up 18% of total energy demand, Hydrogen Council said a report published in 2017.

Last year, the Korean government also announced the Road Map for Activating the Hydrogen Economy and is spurring the revitalization of the hydrogen economy in various industries such as shipbuilding, automobiles and batteries.