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Hydrogen – A Fuel That Could Transform Shipping

Hydrogen—the Fuel That Could Transform Shipping

Green hydrogen could play a crucial role in the maritime industry’s journey towards decarbonization. Produced through electrolysis, H2 is free of carbon emissions and could be widely available across the globe in the future – as a marine fuel or a key enabler for synthetic fuels.

Hydrogen isn’t the only alternative fuel option, of course. Biofuels – fuels made from plant materials or animal waste – are another. But these have a large array of planned uses in other sectors while their sustainable production is limited.

Batteries charged using renewable electricity are another option. But there will likely be limits on the distance these can power; large ships crossing oceans would simply need too many batteries to run on these alone.

However, more than 95% hydrogen used is produced by using fossil fuels. In fact, 6% of global natural gas and 2% of coal currently goes to hydrogen production. While this kind of hydrogen could be used to power ships with zero emissions from the ship itself, obviously it is not low-carbon since fossil fuels are used to produce it.

But hydrogen also can be produced without fossil fuels, using renewable energy to split water in a process called electrolysis. This process is expensive, and currently just 0.1% of hydrogen is made using it, but this is where the main hope lies for a climate-friendly shipping fuel.

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Lynn Dong


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