Written by Madadh MacLaine, CEO at Zero Emissions Maritime Technology Ltd

Zero Emissions Ships (ZES) are possible today. However, zero-emissions shipping is not. Why? Because although we have the technology but policy, economics, and a lack of green hydrogen stand in the way. Fortunately, the regulatory and financial landscapes are rapidly changing, putting zero emissions (ZE) vessels and green hydrogen infrastructure on the near horizon.

To be in line with IPCC recommendations of 1.5, shipping will need to be zero emissions by 2034.

To achieve this shipping requires (1) a zero GHG fuel that can be used in existing vessels, (2) Zero Emissions Ship Technologies (ZEST) that can be retrofitted to existing vessels, and, most importantly, (3) all vessels designed from today should be zero emissions, or at the very minimum, must be zero ready. Especially given that vessels designed today, under normal circumstances, will be in service after 2050.

The good news is that we have the technology. However, much of the tech is pre-market and therefore requires a shift in the regulatory environment as well as increases in development and seed funding to become widely available.

A holistic approach

A  fully Zero Emissions Ship (ZES) necessitates a holistic systems approach, incorporating many technologies that are available on the market but not currently being used in commercial shipping. In this article, I look at some of the design features and technologies required for a ZE self-fuelling water carrier that could compete in the current market with minimum negative impacts on both human and environmental factors, considering; pollution, stability, vibration, and noise.

The keys to achieving zero emissions in the current environment are (1) a zero-emissions fuel, (2) efficiency measures that reduce the fuel required to propel the ship, (3) assured ZE fuel supply and (4) operational measures; speed reduction, weather, and current routing.

Fuel reducing energy efficiency features

An aero and aqua dynamic hull design will reduce drag. An air cavity in the bottom of the hull reduces friction with the added benefit of creating buoyancy when the vessel is laden. The air is released when she is in ballast reducing the need for ballast water.

Using the energy of the environment to reduce fuel

Wind, only being pre-dated by oars, is the oldest form of ZE propulsion in shipping. But modern wind propulsion technology (WPT) has more in common with The Americas Cup, airplanes, and baseball; the market-proven Flettner rotor using the same spinning Magness effect as the proverbial curveball.

Other WPTs entering the market are Airbus spin out, Airseas Seawing, pictured here on a K-Line vessel.

And also the suction wind, conceived in 1980 by Jacques Cousteau. Below we see the Econowind collapsible Ventifoil installed on the 3638 DWT general cargo carrier, Ankie.

An essential design feature of the self-fuelling ZES is that, whatever the wind propulsion system used, it must be oversized to ensure excess power for onboard hydrogen production.

The ship will also use the commercially proven wave propulsion system installed in her bows.

This system absorbs the energy of the wave into a rocking motion which propels the ship forward. A passive foil propulsion system will be mounted in her stern, converting the energy of the wake into forward thrust. This has the added advantage of reducing wash water impact on Coastal ecosystems.

The GEPS role damping power take-in system has the double advantage of both stabilizing the ship in heavy weather and bringing the energy of the sea into the ship’s system.

The ship will trail a water turbine when she is under wind power to bring power into the energy system. The captured renewable energy will go first to the battery bank followed by water electrolysis when the battery bank is full.

By reusing the water generated by the hydrogen fuel cells we have  calculated an efficiency of ~40%.

The onboard hydrogen generation system has been proven on the Energy Observer with registered hydrogen production system efficiencies of 42%.

Both hydrogen fuel cells (HFC) and water electrolyzers, that produce hydrogen,  have been used by the military in marine applications for over fifty years. Nedstack first installed an HFC in a civilian vessel in the 1980s.  HFC manufacturers Nedstack, Powercell, and Ballard are all in advanced stages of designs for marinized >3 megawatts (MW) systems. ABB and HDF have plans to build 3MW power plants for ocean-going vessels based on the fuel cell power plant which was jointly developed between ABB and Ballard. Powercell is installing a ~3MW system in the 102-meter yacht pictured below.

HFCs, being solid-state, can be serialized.

By the time the >80,000 DWT self-fuelling water carrier has gone through designs and is ready to build, serializable 3MW hydrogen fuel cells will be market-ready and able to provide the 21MW of required power.

Fuel is the highest cost in the bottom line of vessel operations. By virtually eliminating the cost of fuel from the bottom line, a ship can afford to operate at the reduced speeds, current and weather routing required to be self-fuelling. Although the CAPAX will be much higher than for a conventional vessel, this ship will be “bomb proof” in the coming regulatory market, holding its value past 2050.

For more detailed information, visit the Zero Emissions Ship Technology website, contact admin@zestas.org or Madadh MacLaine on Linkedin.

DUAL Ports partner Madadh MacLaine of Fair Winds Trust has been on the road, participating in different conferences on propulsion and future fuels, promoting DUAL Ports and the use of hydrogen and wind propulsion in commercial shipping.

3rd International Conference on Marine Renewable Energy and Maritime Hydrogen Technology Florø, Norway

At the International Conference on Marine Renewable Energy and Maritime Hydrogen Technology in October, focus was on providing the latest updates on technology, policies, projects and business cases within the subsea, marine renewable energy and maritime hydrogen industries. DUAL Ports was mentioned at the conference by a sister project, HySeas III, presented by the energy provider company Ballard. Madadh MacLaine participated in the conference representing DUAL Ports, and was met by interest from other ports and potential stakeholders, who were interested in learning more about the project.

IBIA Annual convention Copenhagen, Denmark 2018

IBIA stands for the International Bunker Industry Association who had their annual conference in the beginning of November. At this conference Madadh MacLaine and DUAL Ports had been invited to speak about future proof fuels. As lead partner of the SAIL pilot and as Business Development Manager at ITM Power, Madadh MacLaine presented on hydrogen as a marine fuel and participated in a Q&A with the interest of promoting the use of wind propulsion in commercial shipping. People from the fuel industry showed great interest in alternatives to conventional fuels, and are open to discuss the possibility of using hydrogen and other more sustainable fuels for future shipping.

The Motorship Propulsion & Future fuels conference Hamburg, Germany 2018 

Hydrogen, when produced from renewable energy, is truly a zero-emission fuel. At the Motorship Propulsion and Future Fuels conference, Madadh MacLaine presented the possibilities for using Hydrogen in the future fuel mix. Hydrogen can be used in fuel cells, as a direct fuel or as a mix with diesel for co-combustion. MacLaine also took part in a Q&A session on the safety of future fuels, along with DNV GL, an international risk management company working with safety in the maritime sector, oil and gas, and energy.



For the third time the partners participating in the European project DUAL Ports met to discuss the possibilities of transforming ports into more environmentally friendly ones. At the partner-meeting in Emden this week, the project managers reported on the current state of their particular DUAL Ports projects and the progresses already made. During the three days in Emden and Leer, the challenges that still have to be overcome were discussed together. “We all face the same challenges. We want to benefit from the experience of our partners and work together to develop larger solutions”, explains Dr. Matthäus Wuczkowski, Sustainability Manager at Niedersachsen Ports.

Exchange with the project MariGreen

Moreover, the participants of the DUAL Ports met with the MariGreen project in order to share knowledge and exchange experiences. The MariGreen project also deals with the possibilities of making the maritime economy more environmentally friendly. However, the DUAL Ports project primarily concentrates on finding solutions for port authorities, while the MariGreen project is mainly focused on the development of concepts for shipping companies. At the meeting, experts from both sides were able to discuss within small groups the potential and current challenges of LNG, hydrogen and sail cargo. All participants agreed that there will be a variety of environmentally friendly fuels in the maritime economy in the future. However, which low-emission fuels will ultimately prevail, is largely dependent on medium-term legislation, on the incentive mechanisms of the market and on the awareness of society.

“In order to work efficiently on these issues in the future, greater cooperation between ports and the maritime sector is necessary”, stresses Wuczkowski. “For this reason, we are also planning to promote a close exchange between the two projects in the future.”, Katja Baumann, managing director of MARIKO GmbH, agreed.

Click to learn more about the MariGreen project

The DUAL Ports project

The European project DUAL Ports, launched in 2015 and financed by the EU and the Interreg North Sea Region Programme, brings together ports, businesses and scientific institutions from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Scotland. The aim of the cooperation is to jointly develop solutions for the long-term reduction of CO2 emissions and environmental pollution caused by the activities of the port industry. Through the exchange of knowledge between the partners and the emerging synergies, the development and implementation of sustainability innovations in ports should be promoted and facilitated.

DUAL Ports met for the third partnership meeting in Emden, Germany

Dr. Matthäus Wuczkowski gave a tour of the Port of Emden

“Prinz Heinrich” a 100-year old steam boat, was the setting of Tuesday nights dinner in Leer.

The partnership meeting was very productive, and gave way for new thoughts on transnational cooperation.

A very traditional East Frisian tea time in Leer, before the workshop with MariGreen.

A productive discussion of the SAIL pilot between Fair Winds Trust, the International Wind Ships Association and the Port of Oostende.

Dr. Matthäus Wuczkowski introduced the 900 meter loading tracks, where the installation of LED intelligent lighting will be realised.

During the next Partnership Meeting held in Germany, the DUAL Ports partners will participate in a workshop, sharing and discussing knowledge with another Interreg project, MariGreen

The MariGreen project, like DUAL Ports, is focused on developing innovations for sustainable and low-carbon shipping that will ultimately reduce the ecological footprint of the shipping industry. MariGreen is a collaborative project between Germany and the Netherlands. In the period 2015 – 2018, the MariGREEN Project will unite initiatives from both countries under the banner of ‘Green Shipping’.

The technical objectives of MariGreen will focus on LNG and wind-powered drive systems as well as green logistics alternatives – all with a focus on resource efficiency and safety in coastal and maritime transport.

On October 24, DUAL Ports and MariGreen will come together in a joint workshop in Leer, Germany. The workshop will include an introduction of both projects, presentations of the three common pilots; SAIL, HYDROGEN and LNG, as well as discussions on development, progress and results.

You can read more about MariGreen here.