SEA-KIT International has secured funding from the Zero Emissions Vessels and Infrastructure (ZEVI) competition to develop a revolutionary hydrogen-fueled Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV). Collaborating with the forward-thinking Marine2o, SEA-KIT aims to usher in a new era of emission-free vessel operation with a project called ZEPHR – Zero Emissions Ports Hydrogen Refilling Survey Vessel.
This pioneering initiative encompasses not only the vessel itself but also the development of land-based infrastructure for green hydrogen production through renewable energy sources and water electrolysis. With regulatory compliance, operational efficiency, and environmental responsibility at its core, ZEPHR sets a new standard for sustainable maritime transportation.
A Vision for Emission-Free Ports
At the heart of the ZEPHR project lies the aspiration to revolutionize port operations by offering a complete energy transfer, converting readily available green electricity into 100% green hydrogen for the vessel’s propulsion system. This bold vision encompasses every facet of the hydrogen lifecycle, from production and compression to storage and dispensing. Through this integrated approach, SEA-KIT and Marine2o aim to extend vessel operation capabilities for port operators and stakeholders, underlining their commitment to a cleaner and greener maritime future.
To transform this vision into reality, SEA-KIT International has enlisted the expertise of several key collaborators. Engineering design and sustainability specialists, at Marine Zero, will play a pivotal role in ensuring regulatory compliance and the seamless integration of the hydrogen dispensing facility. The Port of London Authority (PLA), a consortium partner, will host the hydrogen refilling station on the River Thames in London and subsequently operate the ZEPHR USV.
A Commitment to a Sustainable Thames
The Thames, as Britain’s busiest inland waterway, holds immense potential to support the development of a thriving hydrogen ecosystem. With millions of tonnes of goods and materials and millions of passenger journeys annually, the Thames Estuary is uniquely positioned to drive hydrogen adoption across multiple sectors, including ports, marine and river transportation, aviation, construction, and logistics. The PLA’s ambitious emissions reduction targets align seamlessly with the objectives of the ZEPHR project, making it a crucial stepping stone towards a sustainable and efficient future on the tidal Thames.
SEA-KIT’s remotely operated USVs, renowned for their presence in offshore projects worldwide, promote safety by allowing onshore crews to oversee operations from Remote Operations Centres. Their smaller size translates to substantial cost savings compared to larger conventional survey vessels. ZEPHR, a configurable USV platform, will feature a high-resolution multibeam echosounder as its primary payload, with the versatility to mount additional sensors like LiDAR, cameras, and environmental monitoring equipment. The vessel’s ability to deploy aerial drones further enhances its capabilities for surveying, surveillance, and search and rescue missions. With redundancy in mind, ZEPHR will be equipped with two hydrogen fuel cell systems.
Navigating Regulatory Waters
To ensure compliance with stringent regulatory and operational requirements, ZEPHR’s design will undergo rigorous scrutiny by Lloyd’s Register and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Approvals for continuous operations will be sought to guarantee the vessel’s seaworthiness and adherence to safety standards. The construction of ZEPHR will take place at SEA-KIT’s state-of-the-art production facility in Tollesbury, Essex, UK.