Amsterdam will get a solid hydrogen test ship in 2023

The Port of Amsterdam, with the European H2Ships project, has selected a shipyard to build a ship running on hydrogen in the form of solid fuel from 2023, which would be safer and easier to store.

After a tender process launched in March, Next Generation Shipyards has been selected to carry out the construction works of the Neo Orbis passenger ship, which will enter operational trials by June 2023.

The vessel, which will be used as the flagship of the Port of Amsterdam’s green efforts, will be the first to sail on electricity generated by hydrogen produced from sodium borohydride (NaBH4).

It is designed to operate in the canals of Amsterdam and in the maritime area between Amsterdam and Ijmuiden.

The NaBH4 refueling system, which sees the solid form dissolve to react with a catalyst, was developed within H2Ships by partners from TU Delft in cooperation with the University of Amsterdam.

“The main advantage of this hydrogen carrier is its high energy density and the fact that it can be refueled safely in many places,” said Interreg North West Europe, an organization sponsoring the H2Ships project.

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“The vessel will pave the way for scaling this technology for domestic and short sea shipping,” he added.

Additional security is provided by the stability of hydrogen energy storage in the form of sodium borohydride which is an inorganic compound often used as a reducing or oxidizing agent in chemistry. It has a much higher ignition point than hydrogen gas

H2Ships, which has 13 partners from five countries, has a total budget of €6.3 million, including €3.5 million from Interreg North-West Europe between 2019 and 2022 to develop the ship to hydrogen from Amsterdam and equipment in Belgium to supply wind farm maintenance vessels for a hydrogen refueling station.

A long-term goal is to create a closed-loop system where the heat produced by the process can warm the interior of the Neo Orbis while water is recycled and residual materials are turned into new sodium borohydride fuel. The batteries will provide backup power.

Next Generation Shipyards, based in Lauwersoog, designs, builds and repairs work boats up to 30 meters in length.

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