Hydrogen for Maritime Applications

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Hydrogen for maritime applications involves using hydrogen as a fuel source for ships and other vessels, offering a clean and sustainable alternative to traditional marine fuels, such as heavy fuel oil and diesel. This transition is crucial for decarbonizing the shipping industry, a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Impact on climate action

Hydrogen for Maritime Applications within the Green Hydrogen theme revolutionizes climate action by providing a clean energy source for maritime transport. By replacing fossil fuels with green hydrogen, this innovation reduces maritime emissions, mitigates air pollution, and advances the transition to sustainable shipping, combating climate change and protecting marine ecosystems.


  • Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Hydrogen fuel cells convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity, which can then power electric motors to propel the ship. This approach offers high efficiency and zero emissions, making it a promising solution for sustainable shipping.
  • Hydrogen Combustion Engines: Hydrogen can be directly combusted in modified internal combustion engines to generate power for propulsion. While this approach still produces some emissions, it offers a lower-carbon alternative to traditional marine fuels.
  • Hydrogen-Derived Fuels: Hydrogen can be used to produce other low-carbon or zero-carbon fuels, such as ammonia and methanol, which can be used in existing marine engines with minimal modifications.
  • Hydrogen Storage and Bunkering: Hydrogen-powered ships require infrastructure for hydrogen storage and bunkering (refueling). This includes developing safe and efficient storage solutions, such as compressed hydrogen or liquid hydrogen tanks, and establishing bunkering facilities at ports.

TRL : 5-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Maritime Fuel Cell Systems: Companies and research institutions are developing and testing fuel cell systems specifically designed for maritime applications, focusing on improving efficiency, durability, and power output.
  • Hydrogen Combustion Engines for Ships: Engine manufacturers are developing and testing hydrogen combustion engines for marine applications, optimizing combustion processes and emissions control systems.
  • Ammonia and Methanol as Hydrogen Carriers: Ammonia and methanol are being explored as hydrogen carriers for maritime applications, offering advantages in terms of storage and transportation compared to pure hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen Bunkering Infrastructure: Ports and shipping companies are investing in developing hydrogen bunkering infrastructure to support the adoption of hydrogen-powered vessels.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Hydrogen-Powered Ferry Systems
  • Hydrogen Infrastructure Development for Maritime Sector
  • Advancements in Hydrogen Storage
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Efficiency Enhancement
  • Integration of Hydrogen Technology in Port Operations
  • Hydrogen-Powered Cargo Ships
  • Safety Measures for Hydrogen Bunkering
  • Hydrogen Combustion Engine Optimization
  • Hydrogen Conversion Kits for Existing Vessels
  • Hydrogen-Powered Offshore Platforms
  • Hydrogen-Powered Tugboats
  • Hydrogen Fuel Supply Chains for Maritime Industry
  • Hydrogen-Powered Cruise Ships
  • Hydrogen-Powered Research Vessels
  • Hydrogen-Powered Fishing Vessels
  • Hydrogen-Powered Workboats
  • Hydrogen-Powered Autonomous Vessels
  • Hydrogen-Powered Submarines

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Zero Emission Industries (ZEI):
    • Technology Enhancement: Zero Emission Industries (ZEI) focuses on developing hydrogen fuel cell systems for maritime applications, including propulsion systems for boats and ships. Their technology utilizes hydrogen as a clean energy source to power electric motors, offering zero-emission solutions for marine transportation.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: ZEI stands out for its specialization in hydrogen-based propulsion systems tailored for maritime use. Their solutions contribute to reducing emissions and pollution in the marine industry, addressing environmental concerns and regulatory requirements for cleaner maritime transportation.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: ZEI serves various segments of the maritime industry, including passenger ferries, commercial vessels, and leisure boats, seeking sustainable and efficient propulsion solutions. Their hydrogen fuel cell systems are deployed in coastal and inland waterway transportation, supporting decarbonization efforts and promoting cleaner shipping practices.
  2. Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine:
    • Technology Enhancement: Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine specializes in developing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vessels for commercial and passenger transportation. Their technology integrates hydrogen fuel cells with electric propulsion systems to provide zero-emission solutions for maritime applications, including ferries and water taxis.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine stands out for its focus on hydrogen-based maritime transportation solutions and its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in coastal areas. Their vessels offer quiet, efficient, and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional diesel-powered boats, contributing to cleaner and healthier waterfronts.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine targets operators and authorities in the maritime sector seeking sustainable and cost-effective transportation solutions. Their hydrogen-powered vessels are deployed in urban waterways, tourist destinations, and environmentally sensitive areas, providing clean and reliable transportation services.
  3. Hydrogenious LOHC Maritime AS:
    • Technology Enhancement: Hydrogenious LOHC Maritime AS specializes in Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) technology for hydrogen storage and transport in maritime applications. Their solution involves chemically binding hydrogen to a liquid carrier, enabling safe and efficient storage and distribution of hydrogen onboard ships and vessels.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Hydrogenious LOHC Maritime AS stands out for its innovative approach to hydrogen storage and transport using LOHC technology. Their solution addresses challenges related to hydrogen logistics in maritime operations, offering a scalable and cost-effective solution for storing and transporting hydrogen fuel.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Hydrogenious LOHC Maritime AS serves shipowners, operators, and fuel suppliers seeking reliable and efficient hydrogen storage and distribution solutions for maritime applications. Their LOHC technology enables the adoption of hydrogen propulsion systems in a wide range of vessels, including ferries, cargo ships, and offshore platforms, contributing to the decarbonization of the maritime industry.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. University of Strathclyde (UK):
    • Research Focus: The University of Strathclyde is at the forefront of research on Green Hydrogen for Maritime Applications, focusing on developing hydrogen fuel cell technologies and infrastructure for marine vessels to reduce emissions and promote sustainability in the maritime industry.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves designing and testing hydrogen fuel cell systems tailored for marine propulsion, auxiliary power, and on-board electricity generation. They also explore hydrogen production methods, storage solutions, and refueling infrastructure to support the adoption of hydrogen-powered ships.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in ferries, tugboats, and offshore support vessels operating in coastal and inland waterways. By advancing hydrogen technologies for maritime applications, the University of Strathclyde’s research contributes to decarbonizing the shipping sector, reducing air pollution, and achieving international climate targets.
  2. Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU):
    • Research Focus: NTNU conducts innovative research on Green Hydrogen for Maritime Applications, leveraging its expertise in maritime engineering, energy systems, and hydrogen technologies to develop sustainable solutions for the maritime sector.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the design and optimization of hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems, hybrid powertrains, and energy management strategies for ships and offshore platforms. They also investigate the integration of renewable energy sources, energy storage technologies, and hydrogen infrastructure to enable zero-emission maritime operations.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in passenger ferries, research vessels, and offshore installations in the North Sea and Arctic regions. By pioneering hydrogen technologies for maritime use, NTNU’s research contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing energy security, and fostering innovation in the maritime industry.
  3. Delft University of Technology (TU Delft):
    • Research Focus: TU Delft is engaged in cutting-edge research on Green Hydrogen for Maritime Applications, leveraging its expertise in naval architecture, maritime propulsion, and renewable energy systems to develop sustainable solutions for the maritime sector.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design and simulation of hydrogen fuel cell systems, hybrid-electric propulsion architectures, and energy management algorithms for various types of ships and offshore structures. They also explore the integration of hydrogen production facilities, bunkering infrastructure, and regulatory frameworks to facilitate the adoption of hydrogen-powered vessels.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in cargo ships, offshore wind service vessels, and research platforms operating in coastal and offshore environments. By advancing hydrogen technologies for maritime use, TU Delft’s research supports the transition to a low-carbon shipping industry, promoting environmental stewardship and economic competitiveness.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Hydrogen-powered vessels are still in the early stages of commercial deployment, with several pilot projects and demonstration vessels in operation. For example, the world’s first hydrogen-powered ferry, the MF Hydra, operates in Norway, while several other hydrogen-powered ferries and cargo ships are under development or in operation in Europe and Asia.