GLOBAL Energy Ventures has commenced development of a pilot bulk hydrogen carrier for operation by mid 2020s.

The 430-tonne capacity ship will be a scaled version of its planned 2000-tonne C-H2 ship. The development program for the smaller ship is targeting American Bureau of Shipping approval in principle in the third quarter of this year, and full class approvals in late 2022.

The ASX-listed company said the pilot version of the ship aligns with the scale, timeline and downstream market opportunities for green hydrogen projects presently under construction.

GEV managing director and CEO Martin Carolan said the design and development strategy for the 2000-tonne hydrogen carrier proved that large commercial scale C-H2 ships are possible and paved the way for the development of a pilot-scale version.

“The 430-tonne ship is an ideal size to meet the needs of the current emerging H2 marine transportation industry and will ensure we establish ourselves in the marine transportation of green hydrogen,” he said.

Mr Carolan said marketing of GEV’s C-H2 system has provided insights into both the scale and supply and demand for green hydrogen in the mid-late 2020s.

“A pilot-scale ship will be complementary to partner discussions and GEV’s target to develop a fully integrated green hydrogen supply chain from Northern Australia,” Mr Carolan said.

“This includes GEV’s own renewable energy project to produce green hydrogen based on a specific customer use case, delivered with our own C-H2 ships.”

He said blending is an attractive source for near-term demand for hydrogen at low-blend volumes due to low incremental costs. Mr Carolan also said this aligns with the company’s modular approach for production and scale-up.

“The scale of a 430-tonne ship can alleviate the additional infrastructure requirements that a liquefaction or ammonia project will require to deliver a pure hydrogen gas to the end user,” he said.

“Regions with aspirations to develop a low-carbon hydrogen economy are likely to turn to grid injection as a means of cultivating a market and stimulating investment into supply.”

Ship development

GEV said the engineering, design and safety analysis for the 430-tonne hydrogen carrier’s class approvals would be carried out by Capilano Maritime, C-FER Technologies, Tekkara Project Services and American Bureau of Shipping.

The hydrogen carrier’s development will leverage the successful design and approvals received for the 2000-tonne capacity ship in March.

The work program, which commenced on 1 June, will also focus on material selection, welding specifications and prototype design for the required ABS testing program, which will occur in 2022.

Key specifications

The proprietary design for the containment system is made up of two large circular 12-metre diameter tanks, contained within the hull of the ship, that will store ambient temperature hydrogen at an operating pressure of 250 bar and will have a combined containment capacity of 430 tonnes of hydrogen.

One of the key considerations in designing a steel tank for storing hydrogen, is that the hydrogen molecule is so small it can enter the steel’s molecular structure and over time can cause the steel to become brittle. Embrittlement is managed in our design by providing a liner such as stainless steel that prevents the steel structure from becoming damaged by the hydrogen.

The cargo tanks on the hydrogen carrier will be built with a liner of stainless steel surrounded by high-strength steel layers.

Propulsion will be electric drive supported by the rapid advancements in hydrogen blended generation and hydrogen fuel cells.

GEV intends to fuel the ship with hydrogen from the storage tanks, providing a zero-carbon shipping system. The C-H2 ship will be equipped with dynamic positioning for rapid connect and disconnect of near-shore buoys.