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    Unitrove to build world's first liquid hydrogen bunkering facility


Liquid hydrogen can decarbonise the operations of larger ships, whereas electricity and gaseous hydrogen can be used for smaller vessels, Unitrove said.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Unitrove to build world's first liquid hydrogen bunkering facility

UK company Unitrove unveiled plans on July 23 to develop the world's first hydrogen bunkering facility, in order to provide ships with zero-emissions fuel.

Unitrove plans to showcase its liquid hydrogen technology at the UN COP26 conference in Glasgow in early November. The company said liquid hydrogen was a relatively unexplored option as a commercial shipping fuel, but could potentially fill the gap where electricity and compressed hydrogen are not suitable for shipping propulsion. CEO Steven Lua said he believed the fuel would play a vital role in decarbonising larger-sized vessels.


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"Liquid hydrogen has long been used to safely and successfully send rocks into space. The technology is mature, but the markets for its use are not," Lua said in a statement. "We already see very early signs of light-duty vessels being battery-driven or powered by compressed gaseous hydrogen, but liquid hydrogen will allow us to serve the heavier portion of the shipping fleet where we hope to have a much larger impact."

Unitrove, which also developed the UK's first LNG bunkering facility at Teesport in Yorkshire, said it was also exploring options including ammonia, liquid organic hydrogen carriers, and solid hydrogen in the form of sodium borohydride. "However, we understand that priority is currently being given to the development of international standards and regulations for pure hydrogen, and this could play a significant factor in the long run," Lua said.

There has been a steady flow of announcements of new investments and research into hydrogen as a shipping fuel. On July 14, Finnish company Wartsila said it was undertaking tests to examine how engines can run on hydrogen and ammonia as fuels.