Finnish technology firm Wärtsilä has signed a joint development agreement with Hycamite TCD Technologies for the on-board production of hydrogen from liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The entities will focus on the cost-effective production of hydrogen from LNG onboard marine vessels.

The concept design will be prepared by the middle of next year, while the prototype testing unit will be available by the second half of 2024.

To support the production of hydrogen on board the vessel, the concept will enable the use of the existing LNG infrastructure in combination with Wärtsilä’s LNGPac fuel gas supply system.

The fuel-flexible Wärtsilä dual-fuel (DF) engines can decrease the vessel’s overall carbon dioxide and methane slip emissions by generating hydrogen on board and blending it with LNG.

Furthermore, hydrogen can also be alternatively used in onboard fuel cells.

Solid carbon, which is a by-product of the process, can be easily stored and managed on board vessels.

The carbon produced includes high-grade allotropes such as industrial graphite and carbon nanotubes.

The technology is claimed to be suitable for all vessels that run on LNG fuel.

Wärtsilä fuel gas supply systems director Mathias Jansson said: “We are investing in the development of viable future marine fuel technologies and solutions that can accelerate the efforts to decarbonise shipping operations.

“This collaboration with Hycamite is an important step forward towards meeting our corporate targets. Our gas engines can already operate with mixtures of hydrogen and LNG. The ability to produce the H₂ on board opens up exciting new opportunities.”

Last month, Wärtsilä joined forces with cruise operator Carnival’s Holland America Line and Netherlands-based GoodFuels to carry out ship trials using biofuel blends.