Viking Cruises has revealed that it is developing what could become the world’s first cruise powered by liquid hydrogen.
The company announced the plan Friday at the Safety at Sea Conference held in Haugesund, Norway.
The proposed hydrogen-powered cruise ship will be built based on existing cruise ship designs, such as the Viking Sun. It will be around 230 meters long and will accommodate more than 900 passengers and a crew of 500, according to Viking.
“This is a world sensation. Very exciting. If they pull this off, a distribution network may be established, which will enable others as well to use hydrogen as fuel, and could contribute to a zero-emission shipping industry,” says Director General of Shipping and Navigation, Olav Akselsen.
Viking says it has been working with the Norwegian International Ship Register on this and several other new projects in recent years. If developed, the new vessel will be registered in Norway.
“The ship will fly the Norwegian flag, which means that we have to vouch for the safety being just as good as on conventional ships. We believe that it is possible to solve those issues. We probably have a way to go before all the technical solutions are in place, but this is a very concrete project which has a high priority at Viking Cruises,” says Akselsen.
So far liquid hydrogen has never been used as a marine fuel, according to Viking Cruises. One of the technical challenges will be keeping the fuel at minus 253 degrees to keep it from evaporating. A fuel cell will convert the hydrogen to electricity for propulsion and electric power on board. Hydrogen is also a very explosive gas, and protection against gas leaks is an important part of the safety requirements for the fuel, Viking said.
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“At Viking, we have always endeavoured to look forward and to be at the forefront with regard to green shipping. As a Norwegian and with Norwegian ships, we want to lead the way to zero-emission ships through fuel cell technology. The road to that point is still long, but here at Viking we want to be ahead of the game,” says Chairman of Viking Cruises, Torstein Hagen.
Currently, liquid hydrogen is not produced on a large scale in Europe, but Serge Fossati, a project manager for Viking, explained that Viking Cruises is in dialogue with Statoil in order to find a solution based on a Norwegian refinery. It also emerged that Viking wants to use Norwegian suppliers for the project as much as possible, and several tender ships to carry the fuel to the cruise ship are also part of the project, according to Viking.