Future Proof Shipping (FPS) has joined Flagships, a European innovation project, to bring the shipping company’s second zero-emission inland container vessel, the FPS Waal, to Europe’s waterways. Collaborative operations are set to commence this year with the vessel sailing on green hydrogen by summer 2023.

The Flagships consortium aims to raise the readiness of zero-emission waterborne transport to an entirely new level by deploying two commercially operated zero-emission hydrogen vessels in the coming years. FPS will also operate the hydrogen-powered FPS Maas, which is to transport containers between the Netherlands and Belgium. This vessel is currently being retrofitted and is to set sail in September.

Over the coming months, FPS will work closely with world-leading fuel cell technology experts Ballard Europe, ship design company LMG Marin, and project coordinators VTT. Together, they will collaborate across a broad range of activities to complete the engineering, fuel cell provision, and safety studies required for the vessel’s approval, by applying and further developing the existing regulatory guidelines.

Also read: FPS secures CCNR recommendation to allow use of hydrogen on ship

‘The demand for more sustainable technologies in inland waterway transport is on the rise. With FPS joining us, we have two groundbreaking vessels part of the Flagships project. We aim to raise the readiness of zero-emission waterborne transport in Europe, this truly brings us closer to reaching our goal,’ says Jyrki Mikkola, Flagships Project Coordinator – VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

The first vessel in the Flagships project is the Zulu, a commercial cargo transport vessel that will run on hydrogen and will operate on the river Seine in Paris.

Also read: World’s first hydrogen cargo vessel set for Paris debut

Rotterdam to Duisburg

The power capacity, size and design of the propulsion system for the FPS Waal will need to be optimised to handle the higher energy consumption rates on the Rotterdam to Duisburg section of the Rhine. FPS has already been in discussions with several cargo owners interested in shipping their containers without emissions on this route and who are aiming to move a large part of their sea cargo to inland water transportation.

Richard Klatten, CEO of FPS: ‘We are deploying our second zero-emissions vessel here to help decarbonise this busy stretch of 240-kilometre inland waterway. This route is longer and has significantly higher and varying power demands than the route for the FPS Maas, pushing this project team to elevate their innovation efforts considerably. These are new challenges that we are ready to take on together with the FLAGSHIPS team to blaze a new trail towards zero-emissions inland shipping for all.’

Zero-emission retrofit to lead the way

‘Inland waterways are important for freight transport in Europe and therefore I am pleased to see a high power container vessel being converted to zero-emission. The FPS Waal conversion will bring knowledge on how to retrofit vessels from diesel combustion to zero-emission alternatives by using battery in combination with green hydrogen in a fuel cell. A key aspect is the replicability of this zero-emission retrofit to similar vessels,’ says Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the Clean Hydrogen Partnership.

Similar to the FPS Maas, Future Proof Shipping aims to retrofit the FPS Waal (109.8 x11.40 x 3.53 m) to sail 100 per cent emission-free. During the retrofit, the internal combustion engine will be removed, and the new zero-emission propulsion system including PEM fuel cells, hydrogen storage, battery packs and an electric drive train will be installed. The total amount of power installed will be around 1200 kW and the vessel will have a cargo capacity of 200 TEU after the retrofit.

Also read: FPS orders hydrogen with Air Liquide to power its inland container ship FPS Maas