September 26, 2023
Heavy Industry in Petaluma

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Unveils World’s First Liquified Hydrogen Tanker in a Revolutionary Step Toward Cleaner Energy

In a pioneering leap for clean energy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. has broken new ground by developing the world’s first tanker for liquified hydrogen. The achievement marks a significant stride in Japan’s ambitious plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The liquified hydrogen tanker, named Suiso Frontier, was unveiled to the media on May 24 in Kobe. Spanning 116 meters, the vessel can transport a hefty 75 tons of liquified hydrogen maintained at chilling temperatures of minus 253 degrees.

The hydrogen will be liquified from steamed lignite mined in Australia, with an environmentally-friendly plan to trap any carbon dioxide emissions produced during the process underground, ensuring near-zero emissions.

Japan’s visionary green energy strategy also includes generating hydrogen by breaking down water using renewable energy sources.

Kawasaki hasn’t stopped at the creation of the Suiso Frontier. The company has already established equipment at Kobe Port to unload the liquified hydrogen from the vessel and installed land-based tanks for storage. Its first shipment of liquified hydrogen from Australia is slated for spring 2022.

The groundbreaking project, which involves extensive testing in collaboration with J-Power and Iwatani Corp., has a budget of approximately 40 billion yen ($368 million). This funding includes contributions from both the Japanese and Australian governments.

The Japanese government’s plan projects liquified hydrogen imports to reach 20 million tons by 2050, including fuel for motor vehicles. This figure is around 5,000 times the volume imported in 2020. In response, Kawasaki Heavy aims to construct 80 tankers to transport 9 million tons of liquified hydrogen.

A significant challenge, however, lies in reducing the cost of power generation from liquified hydrogen. Estimates suggest that by 2030, power generated by liquified hydrogen will cost 1.5 times that generated using LNG.

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Other nations are also striving to create liquified hydrogen tankers, making for a global race to harness this clean energy source. Motohiko Nishimura, a Kawasaki Heavy executive officer and deputy general manager of the company’s Hydrogen Strategy Division, underscored the urgency of promoting the use of such vessels.