Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan has launched the world’s first-ever liquefied hydrogen carrier ship at Kobe Works yard. Officially named the Suiso Frontier, the goal of the ship is to transport hydrogen in large quantities via the sea. It’s the first vessel of its kind.
The details of this whole deal are a little number-heavy, so we’ll let Kawasaki’s press release do the heavy lifting here:
This vessel was developed to provide a means of transporting liquefied hydrogen at 1/800 of its original gas-state volume, cooled to –253°C, safely and in large quantities over long distances by sea. Kawasaki plans to install a 1,250 m3 vacuum-insulated, double-shell-structure liquefied hydrogen storage tank, currently being manufactured at Harima Works, on the ship and complete the vessel’s construction by late 2020.
Basically, the gas is condensed into its smaller and more easily transportable liquid form. The whole point here is to further encourage Kawasaki’s sustainable development goals—or, basically, the exploration of alternate, eco-friendly energy sources. Back in 1981, Kawasaki was the first Asian company to manufacture a liquefied natural gas carrier; producing the first liquefied hydrogen carrier as a next step just made sense.
There’s a pretty significant caveat to Kawasaki’s previous statement, which is the fact that the vessel won’t actually be fully operational until late 2020. The vessel exists, but there’s still a ton of work to be done before the Suiso Frontier can actually hit the seas.
In addition to the fact that this is the first vessel of its kind, it also signifies a leap into the future by demonstrating how an international hydrogen energy supply chain can be established between Australia and Japan, with the intention of establishing similar connections between other countries.
That isn’t saying things are totally perfect, though. The ship itself is still diesel-powered, which still causes the emissions that hydrogen is designed to reduce. And there’s the fact that this hydrogen is coming from brown coal. Which is, again, not the cleanest form of energy out there.
But it’s a start—and that’s a hell of a lot more promising than not giving this a shot at all.