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Green hydrogen-fuelled autonomous submarine and hydrogen-powered uncrewed surface vessel projects funded by UK Government
© Oceanways Technologies

Green hydrogen-fuelled autonomous submarine and hydrogen-powered uncrewed surface vessel projects funded by UK Government

A project exploring the possibility of launching a green hydrogen-fuelled autonomous submarine between Scotland and Northern Ireland has been named as a winner in the UK Government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

Led by Oceanways Technologies, the modular submarines would be able to perform multiple marine missions, but the first target market will be to ship cargo with 0kg CO2 emissions within the UK and between its trade partners.

Named as one of 55 winners in the competition, the project  could help cleanse the oceans of toxic pollution by collecting microplastics on its pilot route between Glasgow and Belfast.

The £23m government-funded competition will support the development of innovative technology to propel the government’s commitment to have zero emission ships operating commercially by 2025.

Another winner was clean-maritime start-up ACUA Ocean, which is looking into ultra-long endurance hydrogen-powered, uncrewed surface vessels.

Autonomous uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) have the potential to offer a scalable solution to manage and monitor maritime activities, ACUA Ocean says.

However, most USVs available on the market today have limited commercial viability due to low endurance or restricted payload capacities, making them unsuitable for true offshore operations.

To achieve extended ranges with high-power payloads, USVs currently rely on diesel generators with high CO2 emissions and require regular manned maintenance that limits their maximum achievable endurance.

© ACUA Ocean

To solve this challenge, ACUA Ocean has developed a hydrogen-powered USV (H-USV) for safety, security and environmental monitoring and management of offshore infrastructure, ports, and marine protected areas.

With an endurance of 70 days at five knots, and a peak speed of 20 knots, ACUA Ocean says its H-USV can track vessels and provide environmental data using a suite of onboard sensors, communicate using VHF and LRAD systems whilst recording HD and thermal video for use as evidence.

“Our H-USV can be manufactured at scale, reducing capital costs by 30%, allowing for cost-effective operations that are 50% cheaper than manned vessels throughout their lifespan,” ACUA Ocean said.


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