Engineering startup Steamology recently won UK government innovation funding of £400,000 for 9 months for a rail freight project that could open the doors to similar work in shipping.

On completion of this zero-emission rail freight project, Steamology says it will respond to the growing number of requests from the shipping sector to assist in its decarbonisation drive. The project's zero emission hydrogen steam turbine, to be manufactured as a diesel engine replacement for rail freight locomotives, is equally suitable for replacing marine diesel engines.

"Steamology zero-emission power systems are well suited to the high power demands of the maritime sector," says Matt Candy, Commercial Lead.

"Steamology can deliver electrical, mechanical or hydraulic power at the MW scale, as well as combined heat, steam and power options."

High power Steamology systems have distinct advantages over fuel cell technology for use in a maritime environment: Steamology systems are closed cycle and are not effected by the rocking motion of waves or salt water contamination. The power system is extremely energy dense with a very long life and an easy service and maintenance regime.

At the heart of Steamology’s Water-to-Water (W2W) system is a compact energy dense steam generator. Steam is generated using energy stored as compressed hydrogen and oxygen gas in tanks. High pressure superheated steam is then used to drive a turbine to do useful work by generating electricity. The hydrogen and oxygen used in this process are manufactured using Renewable Energy (from PV solar, geothermal or wind turbines) to power electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, and to compress the gas into storage tanks. This W2W closed cycle is emission free, producing no carbon or NOX emissions in a repeatable cycle without charging losses.

By Jake Frith