Design Milestone Reached for Hydrogen-Powered Cargo Ship Project

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A Japanese consortium working on a government-sponsored project for zero-emission shipping has received design approval for a hydrogen-fueled multi-purpose cargo ship. The consortium aims to construct a 17,500 dwt hydrogen-powered vessel within three years. Class NK has issued the world’s first Approval in Principle (AiP) certification for a ship equipped with a low-speed two-stroke hydrogen-fueled engine. The project plans to install the first engine developed by J-ENG using Kawasaki’s systems aboard a vessel in FY 2026, with demonstration voyages scheduled to begin in FY 2027. Onomichi Dockyard will lead the construction, while MOL and MOL Drybulk will own and operate the demonstration vessel.

The project, launched by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), focuses on ships fueled by hydrogen and ammonia. The consortium, led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and involving Mitsui O.S.K Lines, MOL Drybulk, Onomichi Dockyard Co., and Japan Engine Corporation, completed the risk assessment and design concept for the hydrogen-fueled vessel. The consortium worked with ClassNK, the National Maritime Research Institute, and the National Institute of Maritime to identify risks and issues in the design of the liquefied hydrogen fuel tank and fuel supply system, confirming that the vessel’s design can proceed further.

NEDO is also funding projects related to ammonia, including the launch of Japan’s first ammonia-fueled tugboat and the development of large-scale ammonia-fueled vessels. The consortium is researching both two-stroke and four-stroke engines, as well as ways to reduce methane slip from LNG-fueled engines.

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