Design and Technology
Pioneering Power: Greener Yachting
Niels de Vries, one of the lead naval architects at C-Job, shares the pioneering developments making the possibility of greener yachting a reality.
Liquid hydrogen and methanol are two highly potential renewable fuels for yachts for the coming decade. Niels De Vries, one of the lead naval architects at C-Job, shares the pioneering developments making the possibility of greener yachting a reality.
We all know that the future of the environment is under threat and depends upon us dramatically reducing our CO2 emissions – and soon. In fact, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is aiming for an average reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 40% per vessel by 2030 compared with 2008. Ambitious targets indeed. So how can the superyacht market play its part? In short, with alternative fuels and electric power. “Several boat owners want to be frontrunners and prepare for sustainable technology in the future, and we help them explore their options,” says Niels de Vries, one the of the lead naval architects at C-Job, a partner of Ocean Independence.
For a number of operational profiles, combining diesel electric, diesel direct and batteries can make CO2 emission savings of “between 5-10%” says de Vries. “It’s a step in the right direction, but without reconsidering energy sources and renewable power generation, energy saving alone is not enough to reach the IMO goals,” says de Vries. C-Job Naval Architects has been investigating alternative renewable fuels for a number of years. “In our view, liquid hydrogen and methanol are two highly potential renewable fuels for yachts for the coming decade,” de Vries says.
Liquid hydrogen and methanol are two highly potential renewable fuels for yachts for the coming decade.
“Batteries alone are not sufficiently suitable for long endurance. Depending on the hotel and propulsion load, the endurance would generally only be a few hours or a day at most, generally speaking.” Liquid hydrogen could “extend the autonomy that batteries could not offer and keep relatively low fuel costs,” says de Vries. “However, it has its limitations as it still requires significantly more space than conventional fuel and is stored at 20 Kelvin (-253°C), so it’s currently rather impractical and very costly as an installation.” According to de Vries, methanol is relatively more expensive in terms of fuel production because it requires CO2 from the air and loses a third of the hydrogen in the synthesis, “but it saves a lot of volume compared to liquid hydrogen. That is the balance that needs to be found, weighing the value of volume on board against the cost of the fuel.
Either way, these two fuels [liquid hydrogen and methanol] have high potential for the yacht sector.” While great progress has been made in energy saving with hybrid technology (Heesen’s project Electra being a fine example of the possibilities for greener superyachts), it will be “the application of these renewable fuels which will enable the significant reduction of harmful emissions,” says de Vries. “Therefore, these will be the research and development priorities for the coming decade.” C-Job’s close collaboration with Ocean Independence is “a wonderful opportunity to implement the latest technology in existing yachts to step towards reduction of harmful emissions by means of energy saving,” says de Vries. “Furthermore, we share a vision to fundamentally change energy storage and power generation on board to reach a significant reduction and eventually the
elimination of harmful emissions.”
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