Design of 1st Hydrogen-hybrid Vessel Kicks Off


Glosten has been selected to design a first-of-a-kind, hydrogen-hybrid coastal research vessel for University of California (UC) San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Hydrogen-hybrid vessel

Selected following a request for proposals process, Seattle-based Glosten will undertake the preliminary design, contract design and detailed design of the vessel, which will be operated by Scripps Oceanography.

Once it is designed, built and commissioned, the 38-m hydrogen-hybrid vessel will replace the research institution’s 41-year-old, diesel-powered Robert Gordon Sproul.

Scientific mission

Last year, California lawmakers allocated US$35M towards the construction of the hydrogen-hybrid coastal research vessel.

It will serve the university’s educational mission to train the next generation of scientists, carrying up to 45 students and teachers to sea on day trips. will be equipped with instruments and sensing systems, including acoustic Doppler current profilers, seafloor mapping systems, mid-water fishery imaging systems, biological and geological sampling systems, and support for airborne drone operations.

These capabilities, along with laboratories, will enable multidisciplinary research, advancing the university’s knowledge of the physical and biological processes active in California’s coastal oceans. It will be used to study the health of state’s marine fisheries, harmful algal blooms, severe El Niño storms, atmospheric rivers, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and oxygen depletion zones.

Zero-emissions capability

The newly designed research vessel also will be critical to advancing UC San Diego’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative. UC wants to reach net-zero GHG emissions from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025.

Glosten said the new coastal research vessel’s hybrid propulsion system will integrate hydrogen fuel cells and a conventional diesel-electric power plant, enabling zero-emission operations. More precisely, it will be capable of operating 75% of its missions entirely on hydrogen fuel cell power, with only pure water and electricity as reaction products. For longer missions, extra power will be provided by clean-running modern diesel generators.

Fundamentally, our ships have to be reliable and capable in order to support the innovative research our scientists conduct at sea”, said Scripps Oceanography associate director and head of ship operations Bruce Appelgate.

Mitigating GHG emissions

Mr Appelgate noted the critical role the naval architectural firm plays in making possible the university’s mission of advancing research while mitigating GHG emissions from vessel operations using innovative propulsion systems.

The ship we envision needs to demonstrate that zero-emission power systems work effectively under demanding real-world conditions. It’s the job of the naval architect to provide the necessary engineering, design, and integration skills needed for this project to succeed on every level,” he said.

The basic design for the hydrogen-hybrid research vessel could take up to a year to complete. Once the design is approved by the US Coast Guard, the university will select a shipyard to build the vessel. Detail design, construction and commissioning could take up to three years to complete.

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Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography 


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