SEA-KIT, a company designing and building Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USVs), has won funding to install a PCB-based hydrogen fuel cell, engineered by Bramble Energy, on its 12m USV ‘Maxlimer’ and demonstrate zero-emission maritime operations.
SEA-KIT secured the grant through the recent Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC) – Strand 2 in the UK funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) working with InnovateUK.
The project will showcase a successful diesel to hydrogen conversion of SEA-KIT’s USV design and demonstrate a route to fulfilling the UK’s Clean Maritime Plan Strategy commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050, Sea-KIT said.
“SEA-KIT USVs have a dual diesel-electric hybrid drive, with propulsion coming from an electric motor powered by battery banks that are charged by in-situ diesel generators,” said Ben Simpson, SEA-KIT CEO. “This project will replace one of the diesel generators with new hydrogen fuel cell technology from Bramble Energy and demonstrate an offshore operation with zero carbon emissions.”
SEA-KIT will retrofit its demonstration vessel, USV ‘Maxlimer’, with the hydrogen fuel system. Data gathered from bench testing and sea trials will be utilized for the design and build of similar USVs, as well as for larger uncrewed vessel builds in the near future.
USVs are already being deployed for a range of commercial tasks, including geophysical survey, offshore inspections, surveillance, and coastal asset monitoring. This collaboration between SEA-KIT and Bramble Energy aims to enable the emergence of hydrogen fuel systems as another viable option for the fast-growing USV market.
According to Sea-KIT, the application of a hydrogen fuel source to a USV will be a world first.