First hydrogen tug “Hydrotug 1” goes into service

Caption: CMB / Port of Antwerp-Bruges

The Belgian shipping group CMB has implemented a prestigious hydrogen project: the first hydrogen-powered tugboat “Hydotug 1”.

“Hydrotug 1” is now ready for use in the second largest European port of Antwerp[ds_preview].

The official commissioning took place yesterday. This “ground-breaking development” will play a decisive role in the efforts of the Antwerp-Zeebrugge twin port to make its fleet more environmentally friendly and to become climate-neutral by 2050, according to a statement. With the “Hydrotug 1”, the CMB Group is also reaffirming its “international leadership role in the transition to environmentally friendly, fuel-powered ships”.

The group, which includes the shipping companies Bocimar (bulk), Delphis (containers), Bochem (chemical tankers) and Windcat (offshore vessels) with a total fleet of 150 ships, as well as the cleantech company CMB.Tech, has made great efforts in recent years to develop alternative fuels. CMB has rejected methanol drives for large ships. Instead, they rely on ammonia. For smaller and special ships, hydrogen is the first choice – as recently became clear in a project for MPP newbuildings.

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World premiere of “Hydrotug 1”

“Hydrotug 1” is now the first tugboat in the world to be powered by engines that burn hydrogen in combination with conventional fuel. It is the first vessel to use the BeHydro V12 dual-fuel medium-speed engines – each with an output of 2 megawatts – with the latest EU Stage V exhaust gas aftertreatment. “Hydrotug 1” can reportedly store 415 kg of compressed hydrogen in 6 pressurized tanks installed on deck, avoiding the emissions of 350 cars per year.

CMB CEO Alexander Saverys said yesterday: “It is the largest hydrogen-powered ship in the world, and it is ‘made in Europe’! We are delighted and grateful to have the port of Antwerp-Zeebrugge as a partner.” The technology is scalable and the tugboat is “another big step towards carbon-free shipping”. It proves that there is a vibrant energy transition industry in Antwerp, Belgium and Europe.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the port, emphasized: “Hydrogen is one of the keys to an economy and society with minimal impact on the environment. As such, it is one of the fuels of the future. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges wants to fully exploit its potential and is committed to being an active pioneer in the hydrogen economy at European level.” He called the ecosystem represented by the port platform “an ideal testing ground for this technology on a large scale”.

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