09 DEC 2023

Bureau Veritas (BV) has launched its first classification Rules for hydrogen-fuelled ships (NR678) to support the safe development of hydrogen propulsion in the maritime sector.

The newly introduced rules outline the technical requirements for the secure bunkering, storage, preparation, distribution, and utilization of hydrogen as a fuel for power generation on board ships. They also address the challenges associated with the transport and use of hydrogen, such as its high flammability and the need for storage under high pressure or low temperature conditions. The rules cover monitoring and control systems, as well as safety measures pertaining to hydrogen leakage, fire, or explosion.

The rules are designed to ensure the safe design and configuration of machinery, engines, fuel tanks, and other systems on board. They also provide guidelines for the ventilation of hazardous areas, venting and pressure relief systems, and the implementation of monitoring and safety systems, including gas and vapor detection.

In addition to hydrogen-fuelled ships, the rules also encompass “hydrogen-prepared” vessels, which are designed to be equipped with a hydrogen fuel system at a later stage.

These classification Rules complement BV’s existing rule note (NR 547) on fuel cell power systems on board ships, which was launched in 2022 to address the growing interest in fuel cells within the maritime industry. BV says it is currently involved in approximately 10 projects related to hydrogen as a fuel, ranging from its use as the main propulsion source for smaller ships to its function as auxiliary power for larger vessels.

“The objective of these new Rules is to provide the necessary clarity to support industry pioneers as they harness the potential of hydrogen to achieve more sustainable shipping,” said Laurent Leblanc, Senior Vice President, Technical & Operations at Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore. “Hydrogen represents a crucial turning point in technology, offering a potential zero-carbon fuel on the path to decarbonization. We are proud to be collaborating with shipowners, shipyards, technology developers, and our colleagues across the BV Group to shape these rules, NR678, and write a new chapter in history.”

Leblanc further emphasized the importance of tailoring guidance to hydrogen’s unique properties, especially considering its limited use as a ship fuel as IMO regulations on hydrogen are still being developed.


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