The Norled shipping company, one of the largest ferry and express boat operators in Norway, has just celebrated the last go-ahead from the administration of their country in style. That’s right. What the authorities have just granted him is an authorization to launch the MF Hydra, a pioneering ferry ship. Or so at least the company presents it, which insists that it is the first ferry that is propelled with liquid hydrogen (LH2), a fuel that is usually associated with another very different activity: the aerospace industry.
“Today is a historic day, both for Norled and for Norway as a leading nation in maritime transport. Today we are witnessing the first ship in the world that sails with liquid hydrogen”, highlighted the executive director of the operator, Heidi Wolden, coinciding with the start of the shuttle.
The company goes further and claims that there are only two environments in which HL2 is used as a fuel: the space industry, for rocket launches; and now Norled, thanks to the MF Hydra. “It says a lot about big leap technology that the marine industry has now produced”, boasts Norled.
“Another Substantial Leap”
Now the company wants to take advantage of it by moving passengers and cars between the ports of Hjelmeland, Skipavik and Nesvik, in southern Norway, a triangular route in which it will be tested with “emissions-free travel”.
Norled insists on this last idea and emphasizes that, after the advances in liquefied natural gas and electric ferries, the MF Hydra allows us to go a little further. “We now take another substantial leap toward the goal of zero emissionsboth in the ferries and in the maritime industry, in Norway and internationally”.
The vessel is 82.4 meters long and can travel at a speed of nine knots thanks to two 200 kW fuel cells and as many 40 kW generators that will drive Shottel propellers.
Regarding its operational capacity, the Hydra is designed to transport 300 passengers and 80 vehicles. On board it incorporates an 80 m3 tank designed for the storage of hydrogen. Offshore-Energy specifies that thanks to it, a emissions reduction of considerable CO2 in the service.
The MF Hydra was delivered in 2021, but before getting the go-ahead from the administration, its operator has been fine-tuning it. “Since the beginning of the year Norled has been testing the system at the Hjelmeland quay. In recent weeks they have been testing it at sea and receiving approvals from the Norwegian Maritime Authority,” he details.
This is not the first time the company has embarked on an adventure of this type: more than five years ago, in 2015, it launched the MF Ampere, which it claims to be “the world’s first battery-powered and propeller-powered ferry” and favored “A revolution” of the ferries of its type in Norway.
For the development of the MF Hydra, Norled has worked with other partners, such as Linde Engineering, Dane Ballard or SEAM, who contributed key elements, such as the hydrogen systems installed on board or the fuel cells.
“That we work together, companies and authorities, to facilitate the development of new technologies will give Norway a competitive advantage and it can provide the basis for new jobs”, reflects Knut Arild, of Maritime Transport.
Norled’s latest initiative is part of a broader trend that affects the entire sector, embarked on for some time in the search for formulas that help it reduce its emissions and offer a more sustainable service. In this effort, other proposals have been made, such as the return to sailing ships, the use of huge kites, electric ships, hybrid or hydrogen propulsion.
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