World's First Liquid Hydrogen Carrier Ship Launches in Japan

BY Tiya Chatterji 12.Dec.2019

Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan introduced on 11 Dec. in Kobe works shipyard, the world's first marine carrier that transports liquefied hydrogen , using technology that will immensely expand cargo capacity of the green energy source.

The vessel which is named Suiso Frontier, is due for completion in late 2020 and will be equipped with a 1,250 cubic meters of liquefied hydrogen cooled to minus 253°C. At that temperature, hydrogen shrinks to just 1/800 of its original gas-state. A liquefied hydrogen unloading terminal is being built in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, and a brown coal gasification facility is being constructed in Australia.

In addition, an association comprising Kawasaki, Iwatani and J-POWER along with Marubeni Corporation and AGL Loy Yang, was formed in 2018 and has received financial support from the Australian and Victorian governments to build a gas refining facility, hydrogen liquefaction and loading terminal.

On completion the Suiso Frontier will be used to ship Australian-produced liquefied hydrogen to Japan which is part of Japan’s strategy to establish an international hydrogen energy supply chain. In this case, the hydrogen will be produced from the gasification of lignite brown coal. In recent years, hydrogen has emerged as a promising energy source to combat climate change because it burns hot and does not emit CO2 or other greenhouse gases when burned, although it is currently derived from processes that do result in carbon emissions.

A major hurdle which is keeping hydrogen from taking off has been the cost. Power generation using liquefied natural gas and coal remain notably cheaper. For hydrogen to be as cost competitive as LNG, a global supply chain and mass shipments will have to be recognized. Kawasaki plans to commercialize the liquid hydrogen vessel around 2030, and will develop larger vessels.