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Dutch inland waterways vessel set for conversion to hydrogen propulsion

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Maas will be retrofitted with zero-emissions propulsion system in third quarter of this year

Over the next five years, Rotterdam-headquartered Future Proof Shipping B.V. (FPS) has plans to build and operate a fleet of 10 zero-emission inland and short-sea vessels that it will offer for charter. Meantime, it has already partnered with Holland Shipyards Group (HSG) to retrofit the inland waterways vessel Maas to a zero-emissions hydrogen propulsion system.

Following months of energy profiling, the 110 meter x 11.45 meter inland container vessel will be retrofitted at the Holland Shipyards Group’s shipyard in Hardinxveld throughout third-quarter 2021and is expected to be sailing 100% on hydrogen power by December of this year.


The retrofitting involves replacing the current internal combustion technology with hydrogen technology, removing both the main engine and gearbox, and installing a new modular propulsion system. This will consist of electric motors, hydrogen tanks, a PEM fuel cell system (necessary for converting hydrogen into electricity) and a battery system. The compressed hydrogen tanks, the fuel cells and the battery system are separate units that can be removed for maintenance or replacement purposes.

The hydrogen and fuel cell system will be installed in the cargo space of the vessel, with the hydrogen being placed above the fuel cell system in two 40-foot containers (approximately 1.000 kg at 300 bar).

The fuel cell system will be triple redundant with 825 kW capacity (to supply propulsion and auxiliary power) and a 504 kWh lithium-ion battery pack for peak shaving, secondary and bridging power. The system will contain a 750V DC bus bar and an e-motor for propulsion.


Both HSG and FPS have distinguished themselves from the traditional market by actively seeking out and embracing projects with environmental sustainability at their core – HSG on the shipbuilding side, particularly in the ferries sector, and FPS as a tonnage provider by offering zero-emissions vessels for charter to cargo-owners and other shippers.

“FPS is excited to be working together with HSG on the retrofitting of the Maas to run entirely on hydrogen,” says Richard Klatten, CEO of Future Proof Shipping.. “This future-proof ship will truly be a zero-emissions vessel, a vessel to forge the way for a greener and more sustainable inland shipping industry”

“Over the past few years, Holland Shipyards Group has gained profound experience in building vessels with sustainable propulsion methods,” says Leendert Hoogendoorn, Director, Holland Shipyards Group “It has led to battery technology becoming increasingly standard in our projects. As we are always investigating renewable sources, logically the next step is to extend our experience with propulsion methods suitable for (much) larger operational envelopes. Retrofitting a vessel to run on a hydrogen propulsion system fits perfectly within our ambition to work on a greener and more sustainable shipping industry. ”

Once back in service, the Maas will carry on shipping container cargo between Rotterdam and Antwerp and is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2000 CO2e tonnes annually.

The project is supported by funding from the Dutch RVO (Subsidie Duurzaam Scheepvaart scheme), Interreg North Sea Program (via the ZEM Ports NS project), and a stimulation scheme for sustainable inland shipping from the Port of Rotterdam, which is executed by the Expertise en InnovatieCentrum Binnenvaart (EICB).

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