Kawasaki Heavy to build first ocean-going liquid hydrogen tanker with demo in 2017; H2 for transport, industry, power in Japan
|KHI’s view of a “CO2-free hydrogen chain”. Source: KHI. Click to enlarge.|
The Nikkei reports that Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (KHI) will build the first ocean-going ships to carry liquefied hydrogen (LH2), with plans for a demonstration test by 2017 in which liquefied hydrogen will be shipped from the state of Victoria in Australia to Japan. The project will cost ¥60 billion (US$610 million), according to the report.
As part of Japan’s WE-NET (World Energy Network) research program of the New Sunshine Project begun in 1993, Kawasaki and its other industrial colleagues in Japan have been considering the large-scale marine transportation of liquid hydrogen for some time (e.g., Abe et al., 1998). KHI has previously discussed the concept of such a hydrogen-carrying vessel as part of its Business Vision 2020.
|KHI’s view of the timeline of the CO2-free hydrogen chain (from a 2012 presentation). Click to enlarge.|
The notion there is to create a “CO2-free hydrogen chain” in which hydrogen is produced in a resource producing country such as Australia; shipped to Japan via tanker and then distributed via trucks and large-scale stationary tanks; and then used for industrial, transportation and power generation applications.
KHI is envisioning gasifying Australian brown coal (with carbon capture and sequestration) to produce the hydrogen, followed by liquefaction and shipment via the LH2 tankers.
One of the key technical challenges is the development of liquefied hydrogen containers for marine transport requiring advanced heat sealing technologies to enable high efficiency in the transportation of the cryogenic liquid.
KHI has already been working on liquid hydrogen containers for multi-modal transportation in Japan.
For the initial pilot phase of operation to begin in 2017, KHI envisions building two small ships with 2,500 m3 of LH2 capacity (2 storage units, along with stationary storage tanks for the liquefaction and regasification bases of 3,000 m3 and a liquefaction plant capacity of 10 tons/day. The pilot ships could thus carry the equivalent of 2,700 tons per year, or about enough to run 35,000 fuel-cell cars for a year.
By 2025, KHI hopes to move from pilot to demonstration phase of the hydrogen chain. This would entail:
- Liquefaction plant capacity of 770 tons/day
- Storage tank capacity of 250,000 m3
- Ocean-going carrier capacity of 160,000 m3 (4 x 40,000 m3 spherical tanks witha boil-off rate of 0.2%/day.
Regulation will prove a critical factor; large bulk transportation of LH2 is not fully covered by any existing codes, although aspects of liquid hydrogen carriers have been considered. The Nikkei report notes that the Japanese government plans to support hydrogen procurement by drawing up safety standards in the near future.
Superconducting motor for the carrier. Earlier this year, KHI announced it had achieved the world’s highest power density with a prototype 3MW superconducting motor. Kawasaki has been developing the superconducting motor to help save energy and reduce the size of propulsion systems powering offshore vessels, special-purpose vessels and merchant ships.
Kawasaki’s prototype 3MW superconducting motor is half the size of conventional motors. The significant reduction in size was achieved by placing a superconducting coil in the rotating part of the motor, and injecting cryogenic gas to cool the coil.
The newly developed superconducting motor will enable such improvements as reduced power consumption and a smaller footprint, allowing greater flexibility of layout and adoption of a hull form that reduces underwater drag. If incorporated into the propulsion system of a typical diesel-powered ship, the overall improvement can amount to some 20% reduction in fuel consumption, according to the company.
Further, if the superconducting motor is applied in the anticipated liquid hydrogen carriers, the boil-off gas generated during transport can be effectively utilized to cool the motor, allowing for a propulsion system with even greater efficiency, KHI noted.
A. Abe, M. Nakamura, I. Sato, H. Uetani, T. Fujitani (1998) “Studies of the large-scale sea transportation of liquid hydrogen”, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Volume 23, Issue 2, Pages 115-121 doi: 10.1016/S0360-3199(97)00032-3