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2024-03-19 16:54




The Green color of Hydrogen - by Gigi Radice

by Gigi Radice

Baglietto’s B-Zero initiative aims to eliminate emissions, marking a crucial milestone in the shipyard's 170-year history. Powered by green hydrogen from renewable sources, B-Zero is currently undergoing testing on a full-scale prototype. Baglietto plans to install B-Zero on its maxi yachts once certified by Rina, the Italian Shipping Register. Alessandro Balzi, Director of Baglietto's Energy Department, emphasizes the project's role in designing a sustainable future for sea navigation.


How is hydrogen produced on board? 

From seawater filtered and deionized on board: it produces hydrogen with a purity level of 5 percent at a pressure of 30/35 bar. This electrolysis process is powered by the on board photovoltaic panels or other renewable sources. To operate the electrolyzers and obtain green hydrogen, a power of 55 kW is required. 


How much energy does B-Zero’s renewable energy production system generate? What is its usage and how is it distributed on board between propulsion motors and services? 

Hydrogen is complementary in navigation and on board life management. While the use of hydrogen alone allows for zero-emission boating, hybrid engines powered by biofuels or synthetic fuels produced from renewable energy sources should enable Net zero navigation, which means achieving carbon neutrality between production and absorption. That’s why we are focusing our efforts on synthetic fuels that reintroduce into the atmosphere a quantity of CO2 compatible with environmental sustainability. 


How long can a boat equipped with the B-Zero system navigate or stay at anchor without emissions? 

Based on the currently available data, we can guarantee 72 hours at anchor and 24 hours of cruising at moderate speed: around 6 knots. This allows such boats to navigate in a sustainable manner in a delicate environment like the sea. 


What are the main aspects you have had to and still have to address?
B-Zero is a pioneering project venturing into new design and regulatory frontiers. With preparedness and risk assessment at the forefront, we're navigating uncharted waters, both on land and at sea. As a pilot project, part of its allure lies in its innovative approach. While regulations are yet to be established, we're collaborating with Rina to pave the way forward. The evolving landscape of rules and regulations underscores the importance of testing with our full-scale prototype on the quay.

Have you encountered any issues? How have you overcome them?

B-Zero engages multiple stakeholders and partners beyond Siemens, H2Boat, and Rina, including component suppliers and problem-solving studies. With no existing standards, flexibility in development is crucial, tackling unfamiliar topics necessitating time. Emphasizing the novelty for all involved, a strong collaborative spirit is indispensable.


The module’s size, not exactly compact, doesn’t facilitate its installation on a boat limiting the use of B-Zero to large yachts. Is it possible to reduce its size to install it on smaller boats (and thus make it more accessible)?

The two containers on the quay offer a glimpse of the system's size, with an additional one required for hydrogen storage. Designed for a 52-meter boat, the first container hosts the ECR, akin to a conventional yacht, while the second houses electrolyzers and fuel cells. A third container is essential for hydrogen storage, utilizing solid hydrides. While adaptation for 45-meter boats might be feasible, strict volumetric limitations restrict major alterations.


B-Zero is a highly technologically advanced project, starting from hydrogen storage. How did you solve this issue?
We prioritized safety and operational efficiency, opting for solid hydrogen in metallic hydride form, stored at room temperature and 30 bar pressure, meeting safety standards. Rina prohibits gas storage above 200 bar pressure on board. However, alternative storage methods would require onboard systems capable of withstanding higher pressures. 

In 2018, Baglietto achieved a milestone with Italy's first certified hybrid boat engine, initiated in 2016. This paved the way for industry regulations, and Siemens hybrid engines now adorn leading vessels globally, a source of pride for Baglietto.


Has a date been set for the launch of the first hydrogen-powered boat? 

Our clientele is traditionally very sensitive to environmental issues. On our part, we are working on the project from both a nautical and regulatory perspective in order to meet shipowners’ demands. There is no precise date yet. 


Can we venture a guess? 

2027 could be achievable.