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'Your Questions Answered' with Salah Mahdy

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'Your Questions Answered' with Salah Mahdy


In August, H2 View invited leading companies in the hydrogen space, including Howden, to be part of their August 'Your Questions Answered' campaign. H2 View asked their social network to put questions to the experts. Salah Mahdy answers the questions from the network.

Will hydrogen power for maritime be bigger and better than LNG as a fuel?

According to the United Nations’ regulatory body for shipping, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the industry is responsible for almost 3% of the world’s total CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. With current growth rates, this is forecast to reach 10% by 2050. Decarbonisation is therefore essential and the IMO has called for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, on 2008 levels, in order to be consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement temperature goals. Theoretically, using hydrogen as a marine fuel – especially in the liquid form – can play a crucial role in decarbonising the shipping industry. However, there are still major challenges in making its use economically feasible that will take years to solve. Until then, other fuel alternatives are needed to reduce emissions in the short and medium term. Fuels that can be liquefied including natural gas (LNG), ammonia and biofuels, offer an option as bridge fuels until the long term solution – hydrogen – is feasible. However, the issue with LNG is that while using it will result in a net decrease in both NOx (nitrogen oxides) SOx (sulfur oxides) emissions, it also can deliver at best, only up to a 10% reduction of GHG. It still increases the methane leakage rates, which also means a net increase in GHG emissions. Therefore, while LNG has higher energy content compared to hydrogen, it is effectively a fossil fuel, so its use in the industry may be short-lived.

Howden supplies hydrogen compressors for the world’s first container vessel operating on carbon neutral fuel.

How big will maritime be in your business share?

A critical and important piece of technology for the use of hydrogen, ammonia and biofuels is compression, as that is what makes transportation and use feasible – and it’s absolutely key. As a leading global provider of hydrogen compression solutions, Howden has the most diversified portfolio in the global compression market. This includes over six different compression technologies, so we can work with energy producers and create the right solution for each of the fuel options being considered. Our collaborative approach and extensive application knowledge is the reason Howden has been chosen to provide advanced technologies to a wide range of significant projects which are moving the energy transition forward. Key projects for us have been working on the world’s first container vessel operating on carbon neutral fuel with Maersk and European energy; supporting Europe’s largest biofuels plant with Shell; and currently we’re involved in the early studies for a number of the world’s largest ammonia-as-marine-fuel projects.

Why are compressors important to hydrogen in maritime?

Even though hydrogen has the highest mass energy density of all known fuels (around 120-140 MJ/kg), it falls short on other fuel sources when it comes to volumetric energy density (9 MJ/L). That means we need large volumes of hydrogen at high pressure, which is where the need for compressors comes in. And this is why the major piece of equipment that’s in use right across the hydrogen value chain from hydrogen production to transportation, storage and end use, is the compressor. In the maritime industry, ships will need to reduce the size of the hydrogen tanks on-board, which means again, the need to compress the hydrogen to very high pressure so more volume can be stored in less space. Compressors will play a significant part in creating the future of the hydrogen economy because without having the right compression technologies, we will not be able to move ahead with hydrogen. Where an application needs gaseous hydrogen which, so far, has been the majority of cases, compression is essential for feasibility.

Howden has unrivalled experience of manufacturing robust equipment for sea going vessels.

How readily available are Howden’s technologies?

Howden brings over 100 years of hydrogen compression experience to the market. Howden is home to the most important and renowned compressor technology brands including Burton Corblin diaphragm compressors and Thomassen reciprocating compressors. Our team of experts is aware of what the hydrogen market needs, as well as what the maritime industry, in particular, requires to advance. We have started building a strong R&D pipeline for the more advanced technologies we know the market will need for the future, keeping ahead of the game and working on some major projects, such as the world’s largest compression solution. In partnership with PTC, we developed a unique digital solution to optimise equipment performance, Howden Uptime, which is connected to compressor equipment. It offers seamlessly integrated data-related equipment performance and offers opportunities for remote assistance and AR (augmented reality). Howden Uptime provides actionable insight for operating the equipment more efficiently reducing environmental impact and energy costs.

You announced a big contract with Raven in California. What potential do you see in waste-to-hydrogen?

The team at Howden is immensely proud to be supporting Raven as the business supports a more sustainable world and advances the energy transition. Sustainable waste management is possible through the conversion of waste into useful products and potentially to use the associated energy created to produce hydrogen. A useful product could be the hydrogen that is simply created from waste through thermal gasification, followed by the purification and cleaning of the syngas produced. Waste-to-hydrogen is an important concept that can play a role in the future of sustainable waste management and in reducing the negative impacts of waste on the environment. So the waste-to-hydrogen concept offers a unique opportunity to make good use of the massive volumes of energy we lose while trying to manage global waste. Instead, it could be used to produce the cheap hydrogen the world needs to advance a more sustainable future for us and for future generations.

Article Date

Monday, 05 September 2022


Originally published in H2 View



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