Ardmore partners to decarbonise the shipping industry

Ardmore, a seaborne transportation company that owns and operates a fleet of medium-range vessels, has shown a keen interest in using hydrogen to power its vessels, H2Bulletin reports.

It signed a Letter of Intent early this week with Element 1 Corp. (a US-based developer of hydrogen fuel cell technology for mobility) and Maritime Partners, LLC (a US-based financing solutions provider to the maritime industry) to establish a joint venture to employ E1’s unique methanol-to-hydrogen technology in the shipping industry.

The aim is to establish a JV company, ‘e1 Marine’, with each owning 33.3% share, which would work on developing, marketing, sales, and licensing of E1 hydrogen generation systems in the marine industry. Maritime Partners will also invest US$ 40 million in Ardmore, while Ardmore will purchase a 10% equity stake in E1 in exchange for US$ 4 million cash plus 950k asc common shares.

E1 technology is available in three models with hydrogen flow rates ranges from 1.9 kg/day to 170 kg/day at a purity >99.97% hydrogen. The hydrogen generators are modular and scalable up to 500 kg/day.

Ardmore believes that e1’s methanol-to-hydrogen technology is safer and cheaper than other alternatives for onboard hydrogen delivery. It can be carbon-neutral when to run on renewable methanol and can be built or retrofitted to run on ammonia. The E1 hydrogen generator consists of two key components, a methanol-reforming unit and a hydrogen purification system.

“The basic technology is not new, but the ability to produce purified hydrogen at commercial scale, efficiently and cost-effectively, and in a compact package, is a new development,” Ardmore told H2Bulletin.  Furthermore, the E1 system is already deployed and proven, and Ardmore believes the conversion to shipboard applications will be straight-forward.

Hydrogen and, in particular, its use in PEM fuel cells has many advantages, but the challenge is how to get it onboard the ship and into the fuel cell safely and efficiently. “The E1 system generates hydrogen on-site and adjacent to the fuel cell; we believe this is much better than compressed H2 or LH2 given the quantities needed,” Ardmore added.

Ardmore further said that the E1 technology is well suited to what we refer to as “mid-size” applications of 50 Kw to 2,000 Kw onboard marine vessels. The power source would be PEM fuel cells with high purity requirement. The main applications would be propulsion for inland and riverine vessels, coastal vessels, and generators on ocean-going large-vessels.

Ardmore explained that the system could be included in new construction or retrofitted into existing vessels, and it can be modular, containerised, or custom-fitted into vessels. It is versatile with a wide range of applications onboard marine vessels and is cost-effective even today compared to diesel engines. When used with standard methanol, it emits 30-50% less CO2 and no sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, or particulate matter. While when run on renewable methanol, it is carbon neutral. The system can be configured to run on ammonia if desired.

Ethan Mandel

Ethan is the special correspondent for Europe covering the hydrogen industry for H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact me via email or follow me on social media. I am reachable on Phone: +44 (0) 208 123 7812
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