Skip to main content

World first: Port of Antwerp gets first “Hydrotug”


The Port of Antwerp has placed an order for the construction of a tugboat (known as the Hydrotug) driven by combustion engines running on hydrogen in combination with diesel.




This ultra-low emission tugboat is being built by the Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), a pioneer in the use of hydrogen in the shipping industry, which is cooperating on this project with the Ghent-based engine manufacturer ABC. The two have set up a joint venture called Be Hydro to develop the technology further for medium-speed boats with more power. 



Tests show that up to 85% of the engine power can be delivered by hydrogen, a low-carbon fuel. The combustion engines meet the strictest standard (EU Stage V) and will consequently be the most efficient engines on the market. 



The Hydrotug is the first vessel that boasts  ca. 400 kW of power and runs on this dual hydrogen-diesel fuel technology. When circumstances are such that no hydrogen is available, the tugboat can switch seamlessly to diesel only, so that its operational safety and availability are guaranteed at all times. 



The combination of this ‘dual fuel’ technology with a particle filter and catalytic converter ensures that this will be an ultra-low emission tugboat. Hydrogen combustion emits no CO2, while the particle filter and catalytic converter keep NOx and fine dust emissions to a minimum. 



The Port of Antwerp is taking a major step in the transition to a sustainable and CO2-neutral harbour with this project, giving a jump start to this technology and hoping that the maritime sector will follow. 



Construction will get under way soon and the tugboat is expected to be operational within two years.