Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC) of Japan has agreed to construct a hybrid sea-going vessel with a hybrid propulsion system that combines a gas-only engine and a battery. The vessel will replace the Shimokita Maru, a limestone carrier owned by NSU Naiko.

The new green vessel will go into service in February 2024 and, claims NSC, will be equipped with Japan’s first gas-only engine and a 2,847 kWh lithium-ion battery. The vessel’s LNG fuel tank will use 7% nickel steel plate constructed by Nippon Steel Corporation, which is being used for the first time a marine tank.

A gas-only engine, developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, will deliver propulsion power and on-board electric power while sailing. Only natural gas will be used for high power, long distance and long duration navigation. The aforementioned lithium-ion battery will be used for propulsion and onboard power during entering, leaving and berthing ports to achieve zero-emission operation.

According to NSC, the C02 emission reduction effect of introducing the propulsion system of this vessel is 23.56% (roughly 30% at normal load operation) when compared with conventional vessels of the same type. The exhaust gas of the gas-only engine contains almost no SOx, and NOx emissions are way below Tier lll standards, it is claimed.

The construction of the vessel is supported by the Global Environment Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of the Environment and the Maritime Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as it promotes the introduction of advanced technologies that will simultaneously achieve social innovation and the decarbonisation of logistics.

The vessel has a deadweight tonnage (DWT) of 5,560 tons and is being built at the Tsuneishi Shipbuilding shipyard.