Glosten-Designed Hydrogen-Hybrid Research Vessel Approved by ABS

Image: Glosten.

Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering company Glosten has secured an approval in principle from the American Bureau of Shipping for its design of the University of California at San Diego’s new hydrogen-hybrid coastal-class research vessel (CCRV), the firm announced June 25.

The approval means that the vessel design “meets the technical requirements and safety standards of ABS, but more broadly, it validates the use of hydrogen-fuel-cell propulsion for medium-sized coastal vessels,” according to Glosten.

ABS’ endorsement is a major milestone for the company, which teamed up with Scripps Oceanography, Sandia National Laboratories and classification society DNV in 2018 on a feasibility study that led to the creation of the hydrogen-powered research vessel.

Although the study determined that technology was advanced enough to create such a vessel, regulations on hydrogen fuel use are still being developed, Glosten said.

That’s why, according to Glosten, it was important for it to work with the U.S. Coast Guard and ABS on the vessel’s preliminary design, allowing them to establish the regulatory framework for approving liquid hydrogen use on a research vessel.

“When it comes to a first-of-its-kind vessel like the CCRV, these are uncharted waters—it was up to our team to tap into our expertise and work with regulators, partners, subcontractors and equipment providers to determine a sound approach,” Robin Madsen, the project’s lead marine engineer for Glosten, said.

“One of Glosten’s greatest strengths as a consultant is our ability to navigate this kind of uncharted regulatory terrain,” Madsen added. “It’s the difference between paint-by-numbers and a blank canvas—in one case you know what you’ll be getting, in the other you have the potential for something truly unique.”

Glosten and Siemens Energy, the project’s electrical integrator, wrapped up the vessel’s preliminary design in March.

“Our challenge was to harmonize the requirements of a modern research vessel with evolving regulations and novel technologies for liquid hydrogen fuel,” Madsen said. “Ensuring the machinery spaces and hydrogen systems were efficiently and safely arranged without compromising the utility of the vessel was like putting together an intricate puzzle.”

Scripps Institution of Oceanography is expected to operate the vessel, which includes a propulsion system that uses hydrogen fuel cells, enabling the vessel to operate with zero emissions.

By Karen Robes Meeks