The growth rate of the amount of plastic waste in the world’s oceans is increasing rapidly, with the UN and others calling for immediate efforts to reduce the problem. A start-up developing hydrogen technologies, H2-Industries, in collaboration with naval architecture company TECHNOLOG Services, has developed a new concept of a ship which they believe could collect plastic waste from the world’s oceans and convert them into hydrogen.
The vessel is designed to be over 490ft in length, with the exact size to be clarified at the design stage, based on optimum storage capacity. The plan is for the ship to travel at four knots with the plastic waste collected by two smaller vessels towing a two-mile net that funnels waste from the surface and down to depths of 30ft. The vessel would use a new open-bow design that allows collected plastic waste to be routed to conveyors and into the storage hold. The waste would be transformed into hydrogen using a thermolysis process that H2-Industries is developing for onshore factories.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the shipping industry can have a positive impact on reducing global emissions. At H2-Industries, the plan is to help decarbonize industry and power generation, while cleaning up our water resources and converting pollutants into a source of energy,” said Michael Stusch, CEO of H2. -Industry.
For every 600 kg of waste collected, Stusch says about 100 kg of hydrogen can be produced and then stored in a liquid organic hydrogen carrier, a fluid that can transport hydrogen and can be shipped in containers of 20 feet. These containers would be transferred to smaller vessels by on-board cranes for delivery ashore.
The vessel itself would run on electric motors using the hydrogen-charged fluid which is charged and discharged using proprietary catalyst technology developed by H2-Industries. The fluid, known as LOHC, produced on board would be used as fuel on board the vessel and create electricity using H2-Industries’ 19-inch eRelease racks. Each rack will contain 48 KW of installed power and there will be multiple racks to provide the approximately 2 MW that a vessel of this size would require. H2-Industries has developed the technology and intends to promote it also for use on cruise ships, supertankers and large container ships. H2-Industries reports that it has received preliminary approval to build its first LOHC hub at East Port Said in Egypt and is currently in talks with over 20 countries and several ports around the world as well.
One of the constraining factors for production, according to the company, is the volume of plastic raw material. According to them, a rotary kiln can process 600 kg of waste per hour and will generate around 100 kg of hydrogen. Each vessel will be designed to be equipped with multiple ovens to match the plastic collection speed. The concept calls for each ship to collect plastic for about a year at one location before moving on to another water waste site. To ensure that no marine life is endangered during the waste collection process, the vessel will use industry-tested technology developed for seawater intake for desalination plants designed to protect wildlife and habitats.
H2-Industries expects that each vessel can be built within approximately 24 months, once it raises sufficient investment.