RINA okays SWS’ LNG/hydrogen-fuelled VLCC design

Classification society RINA has granted approval in principle (AiP) for Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding’s (SWS) very large crude carrier (VLCC) vessel design which can run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen.

Illustration. Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

The LNG/hydrogen-fuelled vessel general arrangement developed by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS) is based on the result of a joint project with Marin, the Liberia Administration, Wärtsilä, ABB and Helbio (a subsidiary of Metacon AB) and RINA.  

In February this year, RINA granted AiP to to a LNG/hydrogen-powered MR tanker design.

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“Following the AiP of an MR tanker, earlier this year, using the same solution to produce hydrogen on board, this vessel features a new approach to the design of VLCCs. It also demonstrates that the gas reforming concept can work equally well on smaller or bigger vessels, as this first AiP for a VLCC proves its application in the largest vessels,” Giosuè Vezzuto, Executive Vice President at RINA, said.

The propulsion design is based on combining LNG with steam in a Helbio gas reformer to split LNG molecules into hydrogen and CO2. Hydrogen is then directly used to fuel internal combustion engines and fuel cells.

Specifically, the capture of carbon atom directly from the LNG molecules, serves as a pre-combustion technique, and the cryogenic separation of CO2 from a stream of reformed gases rather than from exhaust emissions results in a much smaller installation on bard which eliminates the use of chemicals and the penalty in energy consumption.

The company expects that this propulsion arrangement will reduce the ship’s resistance by 5-10% and meet the IMO targets for 2050 through the use of the ship’s fuel (LNG) combined with hydrogen produced onboard. 

“We are proud to obtain the first AiP for a VLCC to meet IMO 2050. Also, the reduction of ship’s resistance is a paramount step for ships of this size, towards the primary target of reducing the energy consumption on board, and this makes it even easier to reduce GHG emissions. This is a huge step forward in decarbonisation for the global industry and for shipbuilding in China,” Gao Aihua, Deputy Director of SWS R&D Department at SWS, commented.

“One of the challenges for shipowners in meeting IMO carbon emission targets is knowing what the future holds. The industry is considering many options using different technologies and new fuels, aiming to minimize energy consumption and the resulting CO2 emissions on board. Shipowners need to be confident that onshore bunkering facilities and other supporting infrastructure will be available before investing in new vessels,” he concluded.