Transforming plastic garbage from the ocean into hydrogen fuel

H2-Industries of New York and TECHNOLOG Services of Germany have teamed together to create 3D blueprints for a concept ship that would gather plastic garbage from the world’s oceans and convert it into clean hydrogen, allowing extra hydrogen to be delivered back to land.

According to a UN Environment Programme report, plastic pollution in oceans and other bodies of water is increasing rapidly and might more than quadruple by 2030. (UNEP). Plastic waste is the most common sort of litter in the ocean, accounting for 80 percent of all marine debris discovered from the surface to deep-sea sediments. Every year, at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The concept ship would move at four knots, collecting waste plastic from two smaller vessels trailing a three-kilometer net that funnels debris from the surface to up to ten meters below. The vessel’s most innovative feature is its open bow, which allows collected plastic garbage to be put onto conveyors and into the storage hold.

The same thermolysis method that the H2-Industries facilities will use onshore will be used to transform this trash into hydrogen. For every 600 kg of garbage collected, around 100 kg of hydrogen may be created and stored in 20-foot containers in a liquid organic hydrogen carrier, or LOHC, which is a specific liquid that can carry hydrogen. Onboard cranes will move these containers to smaller boats for transportation to shore.

The ship will be constructed to run on electric motors, using LOHC manufactured on board as fuel and H2-Industries’ 19-inch eRelease racks to generate power. Each rack will carry 48 KW of installed power, and numerous racks will be required to produce the two MW required for a ship of this size. This is the same technology that H2-Industries created and plans to use on other ships throughout the world. H2-Industries has acquired preliminary clearance to establish its first LOHC hub in Egypt’s East Port Said, and is in talks with more than 20 nations and many ports across the world.

“It is becoming increasingly evident that the shipping sector can make a good effect on decreasing global emissions,” says Michael Stusch, CEO of H2-Industries. The goal of H2-Industries is to decarbonize industry and electricity generation while also cleaning up our water resources and transforming pollutants into energy. We need investors to help us achieve this. We expect each ship to be completed in around 24 months after the funding is secured.”

The shipping sector is now involved in a number of additional plastic waste projects. Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), Japan’s largest shipping line, revealed how microplastics retrieved out of the water through a unique mechanism aboard one of its woodchip carriers were turned into energy products similar to wood pellets last November.

Meanwhile, Maersk ships have been helping The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization that develops and scales solutions to clean up the world’s seas of plastic, and has been collaborating with the Danish line to combat the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Wärtsilä, a Finnish technology company, and Grimaldi Group, an Italian shipowner, introduced a system in February that utilizes exhaust gas scrubber washwater to reduce the number of microplastics in the world’s seas. Grimaldi has developed and patented a microplastics-filtering device for open-loop scrubber washwater. Wärtsilä will commercialize the microplastics filtering system, which catches plastic particles before wash water is returned to the ocean, in collaboration with the Neapolitan organization. Wärtsilä’s future wash-water treatment system will have the capacity to filter microplastics as a standard feature.

Graeme Somerville-Eyesea Ryan’s pollution mapping program has received widespread support from the maritime community. The Eyesea app uses a smartphone to gather and evaluate data on ocean pollution. The data is used to create comprehensive maps and charts that are freely available to governments, clean-up organizations, researchers, local governments, and a variety of other stakeholders, allowing them to conduct targeted cleanup action and make evidence-based policy decisions.