Application of hydrogen marine systems in high-speed sea container transport
Conventional marine fuels have always limited the endurance of high-speed ships leading to fast but inefficient cargo ships. This research considers the fuel weight barrier in high-speed ship design and the use of hydrogen as a marine fuel to overcome this barrier. Simultaneously, it is now accepted that environmental pollution from ships, particularly large containerships, contributes to climate change. Hydrogen marine utilization provides a solution for both. As common to other hydrogen research the fuel system spans production to utilization. This hydrogen marine system utilizes an established production method to obtain hydrogen from natural gas through steam methane reformation. To achieve an acceptable storage volume meeting the typical highspeed ship dimensions the hydrogen also requires liquefaction. The hydrogen is then converted onboard into shaft power via combustion in aero-derivative gas turbines. This research establishes the necessary system components spanning both onshore and ship components. The novelty of the research has resulted in new design tools. Research into large hydrogen transport applications is not new and a substantial body of research is available from passenger aviation studies performed during the 1980s and 1990s. Additionally, a more current body of research is available describing hydrogen utilization in large gas turbines for energy and oil/gas industries. This combined research provides the characteristics of the onboard hydrogen system of a high-speed foil-assisted containership. This ship is capable of transporting 600 industry standard 20’ containers on long-haul ocean routes, i.e. 5000 nautical miles, at a speed of 64 knots (118.5 km/hr). Such ship performance is not feasible with conventional marine fuels. The design is complex involving a combination of buoyancy and dynamic lift and two distinct operational modes at floating and dynamic draughts. Research involving this ship configuration is included here in conjuction with suitable design methodologies. Besides technical feasibility, economic feasibility of this containership has also been investigated based around the unit transport price required to recoup costs and achieve zero net present value. Such analysis identified that the containership has higher minimum freight rates than conventional containerships but substantially lower rates than aviation cargo. Due to its high-speed and improved endurance it can compete with aviation on transport time and price. Economic review also identified that shorter container door-to-door times are now demanded by the consumer production industry and this hydrogen marine container transport system meets this demand.