Feadship launches world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell superyacht

A cutting-edge luxury superyacht is serving as the pioneering platform for green hydrogen technology. The vessel, previously referred to as Project 821, has been unveiled at Feadship’s Amsterdam facility and stands as the largest motor yacht ever launched in the Netherlands.

Feadship launches world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell superyacht

Hydrogen is often viewed as a key player in the realm of alternative energy. However, real-world applications are necessary to demonstrate both its strengths and shortcomings that must be addressed for widespread use, let alone to form the basis of an entire economy. 

Project 821, launched on May 4, 2024, aims to push hydrogen technology to its limits in the context of superyachts. This is crucial due to the absence of regulations for storing hydrogen or for fuel cell systems at class, flag-state, or even IMO levels. 

Feadship collaborated with superyacht brokers Edmiston and Lloyd’s Register to develop not only scaled technology for ships over 100 m (328 ft) in length but also prospective protocols and regulations.

Hydrogen fuel cells have been utilized since the Apollo Moon missions, but their potential in the maritime sector remains largely untapped. Project 821 highlights the challenges of using hydrogen as an energy source for large ships. 

Project 821 stores a mere 543 kW hours of energy – compared to Feadship’s first diesel-electric hybrid. Its fuel cell technology can provide an entire week’s worth of silent operation at anchor or navigating emission-free at 10 knots while leaving harbors or cruising in protected marine zones. 

From the beginning, one of the biggest hurdles would be developing a reasonable way to store compressed liquid hydrogen below deck at -253 °C (-423 °F) aboard a luxury yacht.

Despite its high energy efficiency, hydrogen’s low density and storage requirements pose significant obstacles. The ship needs to carry over four tonnes of hydrogen to power 16 fuel cells and address issues such as hydrogen embrittlement and venting water vapor. Furthermore, the ship must also accommodate methanol to fuel the cells when hydrogen is unavailable.

Under current conditions, hydrogen alone cannot fulfill the ship’s power requirements. It is only suitable for short trips at low speeds, such as maneuvering in harbors or navigating through environmentally delicate areas. However, hydrogen is primarily utilized for “hotel load,” encompassing all non-propulsion power needs such as heating and air conditioning.

Feadship claims that hydrogen can address up to 78% of this demand, enabling up to a week of quiet, environmentally friendly operation while anchored.

“The aim has been to develop a new, clean technology not just for this project, but for the world,” said Jan-Bart Verkuyl, Feadship Director / CEO of Royal Van Lent Shipyard.