Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

SMMI funded project tackles decarbonisation for global shipping

Published: 20 January 2021
Maritime poster

Hydrogen has been identified by the Maritime 2050 Strategy as an alternative fuel for zero-emission shipping. However, there are a number of challenges related to the production, handling and storage of hydrogen fuel which need to be addressed for its feasible adaptation in hydrogen-powered ships.

A new multi-disciplinary research initiative, co-led by SMMI members Dr Sheida Afshan (Infrastructure Group) and Dr Yikun Wang (Maritime Engineering Group) will explore the feasibility of storing large quantities of cryogenic hydrogen as fuel for future shipping.


The pilot project funded by the SMMI HEIF Research Collaboration Stimulus Fund 2019/20 has enabled the researchers to form a working group across Infrastructure, Maritime Engineering, Energy (Cryogenic) and Maritime Law, with technical support and advice from Mr Jaspal Nirankari, Principal Specialist in Materials and Welding from Lloyd’s Register and Mr James Cocks, IRD Project Engineer from Shell Shipping and Maritime.

Fig. 1  Specially designed test rig and dummy specimen tested at room temperature in the Structures and Testing Research Laboratory (TSRL) at UoS. 

test rig
Fig 1

The first milestone in the project was achieved through the publication of a review journal article “A review of metallic tanks for H2 storage with a view to application in future green shipping” in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy in November 2020. The team of authors also included Dr Zhenzhou Wang (Maritime Engineering Group) and Dr Johanna Hjalmarsson (Southampton Law School).

The review article summarises the state of the art in storing cryogenic hydrogen mainly from the land-based vehicle and aerospace sectors, with a view to maritime application.

It focuses on the mechanical testing and failure mechanisms of metallic tank materials and their insulations as well as the regulatory aspects and routes to approval. The research team identified knowledge gaps to facilitate further research and development in the field.

Glass dewar and test rig assembly for cryogenic testing.
Fig 2 Glass dewar and test rig assembly for cryogenic testing.

The researchers are currently working with the University of Southampton Cryogenic Testing Services (UOSCS) to conduct an experimental programme, to be completed in early 2021. This includes design and build of a bespoke test rig, as shown in Figs. 1 and 2, for mechanical testing of stainless steel samples (base metal and welded parts) in liquid hydrogen conditions.

There are also new proposals/PhDs under way to support future works on the development of new numerical models to characterise and predict the structural performance and integrity of metallic cryogenic hydrogen containers.

Amongst the various research activities around hydrogen/green fuelling at the University and collaborations with industry and policy makers, this research programme places UoS in a strong position to accelerate the maritime sector in tackling decarbonisation for global shipping.

Privacy Settings