World’s 1st hydrogen-powered tug launched

The Hydrotug 1, the world’s first hydrogen-powered tugboat, has been launched and is now ready to start operations in the Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

Hydrotug 1, Image credit: Port of Antwerp-Bruges

The port ordered the tug in 2019 from Antwerp-based Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) as part of its strategy of becoming a climate-neutral port by 2050.

“The Hydrotug 1 is the world’s largest hydrogen-powered vessel and it is “made in Europe”! We are delighted and grateful to have the Port of Antwerp-Bruges as our partner. Port of Antwerp-Bruges shares the same commitment as CMB.TECH to decarbonizing shipping and showcasing technology that can be scaled,” Alexander Saverys, CEO CMB.TECH, said.

“The Hydrotug 1 is another big step towards zero-carbon shipping and proves that there is a vibrant energy transition industry in Antwerp, Belgium and Europe.”

The tugboat was built at Armón Shipyards in Navia Spain where it hit the water on 16 May 2022. In October 2022, the vessel arrived in Ostend, where it was fitted with a hydrogen system.

View on Twitter.

Ostend was chosen because the tug can use the hydrogen bunkering facilities of CMB.TECH’s Hydrocat 48 there. 

The Hydrotug 1 is powered by combustion engines that burn hydrogen in combination with traditional fuel. It is the first vessel that uses the BeHydro V12 dual fuel medium speed engines – each providing 2 megawatts – with the latest EU Stage V emissions after treatment.

Image credit: CMB.TECH

According to CMB.TECH, the engines use clean fuels, resulting in an overall reduction of 65% of traditional fuel consumption and associated emissions in the tugboat’s overall cycle.

The Hydrotug 1 can store 415kg of compressed hydrogen in 6 stillages installed on deck and eliminates the emission’s equivalent of 350 cars per year.

“Hydrogen is one of the keys to an economy and society with minimum impact on the environment. As such it is one of the fuels of the future,” Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp-Bruges, said.

“Port of Antwerp-Bruges aims to develop its potential to the full, committing itself as an active pioneer in the hydrogen economy on a European scale. The ecosystem represented by the port platform is an ideal testbed for this technology on a large scale. In this way we seek to be a source of inspiration and to set an example for other ports.”

Air Liquide will supply hydrogen for the tugboat.

Hydrotug; Image credit: CMB.TECH

The Hydrotug 1 plays a crucial role Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ strategy to position itself as a green energy gate to Europe, with a focus on hydrogen as a sustainable fuel source for vessels.

The port platform’s ecosystem is considered an “ideal testbed for this technology” on a large scale. By doing so, the port aims to inspire and set an example for other ports, as explained by Annick De Ridder – Vice Mayor for the port, urban development, spatial planning and patrimony of the City of Antwerp, President of the Board of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

Port of Antwerp-Bruges wants to play a key role in the import, local production, processing, and throughput of green hydrogen and hydrogen carriers, such as ammonia and methanol.

The vision aligns with Belgium’s hydrogen strategy. One of the goals of the strategy is to position Belgium as an import and transit hub in Europe for green hydrogen.

However, to become carbon neutral, Belgium needs large quantities of renewable hydrogen, which will mainly have to be imported in large quantities.

Related Article