Daewoo Shipbuilding to Build South Korea's First Hydrogen-Powered Tug

hydrogen powered tugboat
The government-supported project aims to build South Korea's first hydrogen tug by 2026 (file photo)

Published Sep 1, 2022 3:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

As part of South Korea’s efforts to build its position with high-value ships and the next generation of eco-friendly vessels, the government is supporting new initiatives for the development of new technologies. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has selected Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to lead a new effort to build and demonstrate the country’s first hydrogen-powered tugboat by 2026.

According to DSME, most of the currently operating tugboats do not meet the International Maritime Organization's carbon emission standards. While the industry has been developing LNG fuel-powered tugs, they point out there are financial considerations as well as challenges in the handling of LNG. The goal of the research is to develop hydrogen systems for use with shipping and to demonstrate the first application with a tugboat.

This project is a large-scale national project with a total development budget of $17.4 million with the goal of commercializing a Korean-style eco-friendly tugboat. DSME said it will develop a 3-megawatt-class battery-fuel cell tugboat based on its remote monitoring and control technology. The company highlighted that has been accumulating information in collaboration with related national research institutes, universities, and eco-friendly ship technology companies, and will now apply this to the development of South Korea’s first hydrogen vessel. The project calls for demonstrations to be carried out on land and at sea.

South Korea seeks to catch up with others that have already announced plans for the development of hydrogen-fueled tugs. The Port of Antwerp, for example, ordered a hydrogen-powered tug that they expect to begin testing. The HydoTug was launched in May of this year by Armon Shipyard in a project working with CMB.Tech and engine builder Anglo Belgian Corporation.

The South Korean project will also help DSME advance on its broader goals to develop carbon-free shipping and to contribute to South Korea’s goal of being carbon-free by 2050. This project is one of several sponsored by the government to support future technology development.

DSME is also participating in the “Gyeongsangnam-do Large Vessel Carbon-Free Fuel Utilization Special Zone” project recently designated by the government. A regulatory-free zone was established for the purpose of developing the technologies for carbon-free shipping along with testing and demonstrating the new technologies. The focus of the effort is on large, ocean-going vessels.

The shipyard is also actively developing ship technology using ammonia. The shipyard is working on demonstrations of an ammonia co-firing engine in the Okpo National Industrial Complex and offshore demonstration zone in Geoje. DSME is also carrying out technical verification of its self-developed ammonia fuel supply system at a demonstration test facility.

This week, DSME also announced a new partnership with rival shipyard Samsung Heavy Industries and HSD Engine for the development of a next-generation eco-friendly engine. The companies plan to coordinate and work together on R&D to support the joint development of new marine engines. They will be concentrating on developing new engines using methanol, ammonia, and hydrogen as alternative fuels in line with tightening environmental regulations.