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The world’s first liquid hydrogen ferry begins operating in Norway

After a period of extensive sea trials one of Norway’s largest ship and ferry operators, Norled has begun operating a ferry service using the first liquid hydrogen powered ship in the world.

The MF Hydra can carry 300 passengers and 80 cars and will operate a triangular route connecting Hjelmeland, Skipavik and Nesvik. 

The Hydra carries 4 tonnes of liquid hydrogen in 80 cubic meter tanks which are located on top of the ferry along with the fuel cell.

Liquid hydrogen has a much higher density than compressed hydrogen and is created by cooling hydrogen gas to below 253°C and then storing it in an insulated tank. Its most common use is as rocket fuel for space travel, indeed Erlend Hovland, Chief Technology Officer of Norled said: ‘There are only two parties in the world that use liquid hydrogen as a fuel. These are Norled with the MF Hydra, and then the space industry using it as fuel for launches. This says something about the giant technology leap now taken for the maritime industry.’

Mr Hovland also explained that they chose liquified hydrogen because ‘it is easier to transport and store than compressed hydrogen.’

Norled have a track record of maritime innovation, having launched a ferry that ran on liquified natural gas in 2000 and in 2015 they introduced MF Ampere, the world’s first electrical ferry with propeller drive – there are now 70 electric ferries in Norway.

Heidi Wolden, CEO of Norled said: ‘It’s important for us to be at the forefront when it comes to technology development. Investing in innovation, sustainability, and collaboration to develop new solutions is our way of taking social responsibility.’

Norway’s Director General of Shipping and Navigation, Knut Arild Hareide said:’We know that there may be challenges when it comes to putting new technology to use, and it is also good that the Norwegian Maritime Authority has been closely involved in the project from an early stage, like we were when the first battery-operated car ferry was to be put into operation. This is of course a very important project for Norled, but also for Norway as a nation. The fact that we work together, businesses and authorities, to facilitate new technology development will give Norway a competitive advantage and may provide the basis for new jobs, while also making it even more exciting to work in the maritime industry.’

 

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