New York-based hydrogen company H2 Industries and naval architecture firm TECHNOLOG Services have developed 3D designs for a concept ship that collects plastic waste and converts it into clean hydrogen.

According to an assessment by the UNEP, plastic pollution in oceans continues to grow sharply and could more than double by 2030. Plastic debris currently makes up 80 per cent of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. In addition, at least 14 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year.

This new design for an innovative concept shows a ship that will collect plastic waste and then convert it into clean hydrogen, allowing surplus hydrogen to be shipped back to shore.

The vessel will be more than 150 metres in length. It is to travel at four knots with the waste plastic collected by two smaller vessels towing a two-mile net that funnels the waste from the surface and up to ten metres below it. The most novel feature of the vessel will be the open bow design that allows the collected plastic waste to be fed onto conveyors and into the storage hold.

This waste will then be converted into hydrogen by the same thermolysis process that the H2-Industries’ plants will be using onshore.  For every 600 kilograms of waste, approximately 100 kilograms of hydrogen can be produced and then, stored in liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) in 20-foot containers. These containers will be transferred to smaller vessels by onboard cranes for delivery to shore.

Due to the benefit of removing plastic waste from the ocean, hydrogen produced in this manner can be classified as “beyond green” or “greener than green”.

LOHC carrier fluids bind hydrogen chemically and the stored hydrogen is neither volatile nor capable of self-discharging. The LOHC can be hydrogen-charged and discharged only in combination with a certain catalyst. H2-Industries says its storage solutions work by charging and discharging the LOHC. The charging and discharging are independent processes using proprietary catalyst technology.

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Developing a maritime clean hydrogen infrastructure

The ship will run on electric motors using the LOHC produced, on board, as its fuel and creating electricity using H2-Industries’ racks. Each rack will hold 48 kilowatts of installed power and there will be multiple racks to deliver the approximately two megawatts that a ship of this size will require.

This is the same technology H2-Industries has developed and which it intends to deploy in cruise liners, super-tankers, and large container ships.

The company has received preliminary approval to build its first LOHC hub in East Port Said in Egypt and is currently in discussions with more than 20 countries and, as well, with several ports worldwide.

Michael Stusch, CEO of H2-Industries says: “It is becoming increasingly clear that the shipping industry can make a positive impact on reducing global emissions. At H2-Industries, the plan is to help decarbonise industry and power generation, while cleaning up our water resources and converting pollutants into an energy source. To achieve this, we are looking for investors. Once the investment is in place, we expect each ship will be built within roughly 24 months.”

One constraining factor for production is the volume of plastic feedstock. One rotary kiln can handle 600 kgs of waste every hour and that will generate approximately. 100 kgs of hydrogen. Each ship will feature multiple kilns to match the speed of plastic collection. It is envisaged that each ship will collect plastic for around a year in one location before moving on to another water waste site.

To ensure no marine wildlife is endangered during the waste collection process, the vessel will employ industry-tested technology developed for the seawater intake for desalination plants designed to protect wildlife and habitats.

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