First ship in the world to run on liquid hydrogen

On March 31, 2023, the ferry Hydra made its maiden voyage as the world´s first hydrogen-powered ship. On board is state of the art technology from MannTek.
– Their spill free quick connectors make it possible to refuel with liquid hydrogen, requiring a temperature of minus 253 degrees, explains Erlend Hovland, Chief Technical Officer at Norled.

Hydra belongs to Norled, one of Norway’s largest ferry and express boat operators, and runs between Hjelmeland and Nesvik on the Norwegian west coast. It has operated just as planned since the start in March 2023, and can run on hydrogen, batteries and diesel power.

– We have a requirement in our contract with Statens Vegvesen (the Norwegian Public Roads Administration) to run on hydrogen for an average of 50% of the journeys, says Erlend Hovland.

A significant step from LNG

The spill-free quick connectors for special hose allow Hydra to refuel with liquid hydrogen, which requires a temperature of minus 253 degrees. This is a significant step from LNG, which requires “only” minus 160 degrees (celsius).

– We received a request from Linde Engineering, which provided the hydrogen system, to deliver the connector, says Gerhard Kopplin, Chief Technical Officer at MannTek. We have worked on hydrogen connectors before and had already built prototypes that they wanted us to test.

The entire process of developing the connector took one and a half years.

– Of that time, the last year was just for the approval process itself, explains Gerhard Kopplin.

MannTek Coupling

Technical challenges

Since hydrogen requires such a low temperature to be in liquid form, it imposes extreme requirements on the connector to prevent any leaks, which could pose a significant explosion risk.

– There are quite a few technical challenges, says Gerhard Kopplin. For example, all air must be able to vent out when connecting the MannTek couplings so it doesn’t get into the tank.

– In addition, there are material requirements, he continues. Half of the battle was finding materials in the right dimensions and approved by DNV.

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