First hydrogen tugboat in the world on display in Antwerp

On Tuesday, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and CMB.TECH presented the Hydrotug 1, the first tugboat in the world that runs on hydrogen. The ship will be exclusively deployed in Belgium.

The Hydrotug 1 was launched in Spain in May 2022. A few months later, the tugboat made the crossing to Belgium, where the hydrogen system was installed and tested in the port of Ostend. Today, the ship is displayed in front of the Antwerp port house.

“With a pulling power of 65 tonnes, this is the largest hydrogen ship in the world, and it was made in Europe,” says Alexander Saverys, CEO at CMB.TECH. “The Port of Antwerp-Bruges shares our commitment to make shipping carbon-free.

Ship emissions make up a considerable part of the port's ecological footprint. To be climate neutral by 2050, the port must rely on ships such as the Hydrotug, which sail on V12 dual-fuel engines.

These engines burn hydrogen in combination with traditional fuel. If a safety problem occurs, the barge can switch to diesel. Currently, the engines deliver a few megawatts, not yet gigawatts. Fuel cells convert the onboard hydrogen into electricity.

“Thanks to our technology, the ship uses clean fuels,” said developer CMB.TECH. “For the total cycle of the tug, this results in a 65 per cent reduction in traditional fuel consumption and associated emissions.” The Hydrotug can store almost half a ton of compressed hydrogen on the deck, eliminating the equivalent annual emissions of 350 cars.

Today, hydrogen production mainly comes from gas. As a result, the technology is not yet fully sustainable. In the future, however, the intention is for all hydrogen to be obtained from renewable energy, such as solar and wind.



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