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Conversion of hydrogen-powered inland barge begins

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Future Proof Shipping’s first inland barge has arrived at a shipyard in the Netherlands to begin its conversion from standard diesel power to become one of the first vessels powered by hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

The business has revealed its intention to retrofit three ships with zero-emission technology.

FPS Maas, built in 1993 and acquired by the business in 2020, made her final voyage from Belgium to Rotterdam using diesel and an internal combustion engine. On August 15, she landed at the Holland Shipyards Group facility in Werkendam, where she will undergo retrofitting to become a zero-emission vessel.

When the upgrade is complete in December, it is anticipated that the 200 TEU-capacity vessel will be entirely powered by hydrogen. Once back in service, the containership operating along the busy 150-mile-long inland waterway between Rotterdam and Antwerp is estimated to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2,000 CO2e tonnes.

The vessel’s primary engine and gearbox will be removed and replaced with a new, modular propulsion system as part of the retrofitting project. It will have electric motors, hydrogen tanks, a PEM fuel cell system (required for converting hydrogen to power), and a battery system. The compressed hydrogen tanks, fuel cells, and battery system are removable units that can be serviced or replaced independently.

The hydrogen and fuel cell system will be installed in the cargo space of the ship, with the hydrogen placed in two 40-foot containers above the fuel cell system. The fuel cell system will have a capacity of 825 kW (to provide propulsion and auxiliary power) and a 504 kWh lithium-ion battery pack for peak shaving, secondary, and bridging power. The propulsion system will consist of a 750V DC bus bar and an e-motor.

In October 2021, FPS bought two additional inland vessels that it intends to convert to hydrogen-powered propulsion. In the next five years, the company intends to operate a fleet of ten zero-emission inland and coastal vessels.

The Netherlands issued its first license for the use of hydrogen as bunker fuel to IJmond Environmental Service on behalf of the Velsen Municipality earlier this year. Windcat Workboats poured hydrogen onto its first-ever hydrogen-powered CTV Hydrocat 48 vessel. This spring-delivered vessel is used to carry crew between the port of Ijmuiden and the 44 Vestas turbines that comprise the Belgian wind farm Norther.

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