Tripartite tech innovation targets emissions

CMB is working with TFC to build the world’s first passenger ferry powered by a dual fuel hydrogen-diesel internal combustion main engine. Image: CMB
Low carbon
Revolve Technologies has been developing hydrogen combustion engines (H2ICE) and systems for over a decade. Image: Revolve Technologies
BeHydro engine. Image: CMB

A European maritime group is accelerating its investment in hydrogen and low carbon technologies as pressure on the shipping industry to cut emissions grows.

Antwerp-headquartered Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) has acquired Revolve Technologies Limited (RTL), which specialises in the engineering, development, prototyping, design and testing of automotive and marine engines and has been pioneering and developing hydrogen combustion engines (H2ICE) and systems for more than 10 years.

One example of RTL’s work is its development of the engines onboard the CMB-owned Hydroville, the world’s first sea-going vessel with dual fuel diesel-hydrogen engines.

RTL will be fully integrated under CMB Technologies - the innovation and development division of CMB, and renamed CMB Revolve Technologies. However, it will remain based in Brentwood, UK.

“CMB Technologies focuses on hydrogen and low carbon technologies, energy saving solutions, digital fleet performance monitoring and weather routing,” stated CMB.

CMB Revolve Technologies, which will benefit from a workshop for prototyping and engine test cell facilities, will continue to supply consultancy services to third party customers in the automotive and marine industries.

Dual fuel ferry

As part of its investment in sustainable initiatives, CMB has agreed to work with Tsuneishi Facilities & Craft (TFC) to build the world’s first passenger ferry powered by a dual fuel hydrogen-diesel internal combustion main engine.

“After receiving the necessary regulatory approval, the ship will be built at TFC’s facilities in Onomichi, Japan and is expected to be delivered in 2021,” explained CMB.

By combining TFC’s shipbuilding capabilities and CMB Technologies’ extensive knowledge of marine hydrogen systems, both parties hope to build a pioneering ship that will be a milestone in the journey towards zero carbon emission shipping. The partnership also supports Japan’s vision to become a leading hydrogen society by 2050.

TFC undertakes the building and repair of aluminium alloy vessels, general construction, and lifeboat maintenance and inspection. It produces 19 to 150GT capacity passenger boats for remote islands, customs boats, fisheries patrol boats, survey boats, pilot boats and escort boats.


In addition to CMB’s latest ventures, a joint venture it created with ABC Engines in 2018 has already reached commercial launch stage.

BeHydro focuses on the development, design and marketing of medium speed hydrogen combustion engines (monofuel hydrogen and dual fuel hydrogen-diesel) that will offer the possibility to seriously reduce carbon emissions (50 to 100 pct reduction) with proven technology at affordable cost levels.

After an extensive period of testing, BeHydro has confirmed that it aims to commercially launch its first hydrogen medium speed engine in the course of 2020. “Engines currently under development have a power range between 0,8 and 2.8MW and are available in 6, 8, 12 and 16-cylinder configurations,” said CMB.

The engines will have a very wide usage range: marine main engine for tugboats, ferries and barges, marine auxiliary engines for all sea-going ships, land-based generators for clean electricity generation and cold ironing, green back-up generator sets, hydrogen locomotive engines, etc.

ABC is a multi-fuel medium speed engine builder based in Belgium. Its specialist areas include marine propulsion, generating sets and locomotives with a power range from 0.8MW up to 10MW per unit, and turnkey power plants of up to 100MW.

ABC contributed its expertise in engines to BeHydro, while CMB offered its experience in the storage and usage of hydrogen. ABC and CMB each contributed 50% to the capital of the start-up.

CTV project

Windcat Workboats is currently working closely with CMB on the development of a hydrogen-powered crew transfer vessels (CTV) for the Hollandse Kust Zuid 1 & 2 offshore wind farm in the Dutch North Sea. Vattenfall has signed a contract with Windcat for the vessels, the first of which is expected to be completed by 2020.

In December, CMB won a sustainability award from Antwerp Port Authority, the Scheldt Left Bank Corporation and Alfaport-Voka for its Hydroville catamaran shuttle.

Built by BWSeacat in the UK, Hydroville is the first passenger vessel to be powered by hydrogen.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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