FIRST LIQUEFIED HYDROGEN CARRIER UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 The LH2 carrier is being built by KHI as part of a pilot hydrogen energy supply chain project by CO2-free Hydrogen energy Supply-chain technology Research Association (HySTRA). (Image courtesy of HySTRA)
The LH2 carrier is being built by KHI as part of a pilot hydrogen energy supply chain project by CO2-free Hydrogen energy Supply-chain technology Research Association (HySTRA). (Image courtesy of HySTRA)
The keel laying ceremony for the 8,000gt LH2 carrier was carried out on 12 June 2019 at KHI’s Kobe shipyard. (Image courtesy of Kawasaki Heavy Industries)
The keel laying ceremony for the 8,000gt LH2 carrier was carried out on 12 June 2019 at KHI’s Kobe shipyard. (Image courtesy of Kawasaki Heavy Industries)

Japanese shipbuilder and engineering conglomerate Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) has begun construction of the world’s first liquefied hydrogen (LH2) carrier.

The project includes Japan’s largest hydrogen distributor, Iwatani Corporation, as well as Shell Japan and J-Power, Marubeni Corporation, and JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation according to a recent presentation at Gastech 2019 in Houston. The project is being promoted by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) in Japan.

The keel laying ceremony for the 8,000gt LH2 carrier was carried out on 12 June 2019 at KHI’s Kobe shipyard, and the vessel is intended to be launched by December 2019. Sea trials are expected to be undertaken in September 2020.

The vessel’s systems are expected to undergo rigorous tests in Japan’s coastal waters before the vessel makes its first maiden round voyage carrying liquefied hydrogen between Kobe and Hastings.

The construction of the carrier is a significant step towards the development of a liquefied hydrogen demonstration project trial, linking a 250 kg/day hydrogen liquefaction plant at Hastings in Victoria, Australia with the port of Kobe in Japan. The project is expected to operate between 2021 and 2022.

The LH2 carrier represents an important milestone towards the introduction of liquefied hydrogen carriers and the validation of the concept of hydrogen exports in the seaborne market. The project has confronted challenges in areas as diverse as the development of marine standards for the carriage of hydrogen, technology readiness, or difficulties in testing at LH2 or liquid Helium temperatures.

Technical aspects

  • The vessel’s containment tank is IMO Type C cylindrical tank, constructed from austenitic stainless steel designed to resist the -253 degree C  temperature, with a pressure of 0.4MPaG. The tank features a vacuum multi-layer insulation system.
  • The vessel features a pressure retention system, with a vent line incorporating hydrogen compression and a heater/vaporiser section. The vessel also features a Gas Combustion Unit (GCU).
  • Double wall piping and valve system combining with a vacuum multi-layer insulation is mostly applied with weld connections to the liquefied and gaseous hydrogen pipes and valves in order to limit mechanical joints as far as possible for the purpose of leak prevention.
  • A cargo vent mast on the deck permits the discharge of hydrogen in line with operational needs. Hydrogen venting has no adverse environmental impact however is more of a safety consideration Hydrogen vent onboard includes a number of particular features such as constant purging etc.

These technical considerations have led to several changes in the operating practices aboard the vessel compared with LNG carrier operational practices. Monitoring sensors are made available to identify leaks at PRVs and TSVs at an early stage, while the vacuum insulated pipes (VIP) lines are monitored for signs of temperature changes.

Safety aspects

  • Hydrogen's small molecular size means preventing leaks is a particular challenge; where emphasis has been on prevention of leaks for example by means of all welded construction, minimisation of flanges and provision to prevent over pressurisation, it’s equally important to ensure that any leak is detected quickly. This is achieved by means of effective gas detection.
  • The impact of cryogenic operating temperatures and the challenge of ensuring the integrity of seals has also seen innovations in a number of components in the vessel.
  • Similar attention surrounds the management of the VIP before and after cargo loading and discharge. Project has developed and utilised special marine loading arm and connection to ensure the safe management of hydrogen loading and discharge.
  • The vessel features a twin-container configuration, while the hull will have both double side shells and a double bottom to minimise risks in the event of grounding or collision. The cargo hold will be covered to protect the containment vessels from external damage and from the open air.

The vessel is also governed by ClassNK’s 2017 guidelines based on the Interim Recommendations for Carriage of Liquefied Hydrogen in Bulk in IMO. The guidelines willbe reinforced and revised by the results of the design, construction, and operation of this LH2 Carrier. Several of these additional requirements relate to safety measures around the vessel, owing to the unusual properties of liquefied hydrogen, as well as the challenges posed to conventional fire detection systems by the translucency of hydrogen flames. The risk of hydrogen embrittlement and the need to avoid the formation of liquid nitrogen or liquid oxygen within the system are recognised and managed by means of material selection and appropriate insulation.

The project is expected to contribute data towards the development of rules governing the carriage of hydrogen for the IGC & IGF Codes and classification societies, as well as contributing directly towards the development of rules governing cargo handling operations and the performance of cargo tank vacuum multi-layer insulation.

The presentation concluded with a number of necessary next steps, including the development of an appropriate cargo containment system for larger capacity vessels. The consortium also identified the development of means of power production and propulsion onboard ship among necessary areas of research in order to achieve 2030 objectives.

PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS – HySTRA Liquefied hydrogen carrier

Length overall

116.0m

Breadth

19.0m

Depth

10.6m

Draught

4.5m

Cargo capacity

1,250m3 x 1

Gross tonnage

8,000t

Propulsion System

Diesel-Electric

Class

Class NK

Speed

13 knots

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