The christening ceremony was conducted by Bishop Johan Bonny, Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters, Flemish Minister-President Geert Bourgeois and State Secretary Philippe De Backer in attendance.
The advantage of hydrogen as a fuel for ships, is that no CO2, atmospheric particulate matter or sulphur oxides are released during combustion.
The 14m vessel will also commute daily between Kruibeke and Antwerp during peak times, to provide CMB employees with efficient, environmentally-friendly transport to and from the office.
The Hydroville project aims to promote the use of clean fuel, in this case hydrogen (H2), in the maritime sector. Hydrogen can be extracted from the environment relatively simply, and does not release hazardous emissions when it is combusted.
"The company opted for combustion engines because batteries or fuel cells are less suitable for heavy transport (such as ships and aircraft). The batteries required for an application of this kind would be so huge that their cost and weight would make them economically unfeasible. The time it takes to charge that kind of battery would be problematic as well. Fuel cells offer more possibilities in that area, but the high cost makes them less suitable for large-scale commercial transport. If we want to build green ships or aircraft at present, we will need to focus on biofuel or hydrogen. The first experiment on the table in commercial (freight) shipping is to equip a CMB container ship with a hydrogen-powered auxiliary engine," CMB said.
The word Hydroville means “water city” or “hydrogen city”, and refers to the Hydroville’s home port of Antwerp.
Antwerp is already familiar with hydrogen and the Hydroville project aims to enhamce this expertise, turning Antwerp into a hydrogen knowledge centre.
The new vessel is equiped with 16 seats that can be set up in three different configurations. Besides the commuter configuration, they can also be set up for meetings.
Furthermore, in the cinema configuration, all the seats face the flat-screen TV, for films or presentations. There is an outdoor passenger deck at the stern.
There is also a small galley and toilet provided for longer trips.
In these eraly stages, the Hydroville will transport CMB employees between Kruibeke and Antwerp during the rush hour, to avoid the traffic jams.
The ship will occasionally be used for meetings or dinners on board, or to organise a trip to the Port of Antwerp, as well.
Moreover, it will be a base for demonstrating the use of hydrogen in shipping, and will be sent out to attend events all around Europe in this context.
Fianlly, the ship can also be used for excursions to the wind farms off the Belgian coast in holiday periods, when there are fewer traffic jams.