Harnessing Hydrogen: Pioneering a Sustainable Maritime Future with BMT's Andrew Harris

In the relentless pursuit of sustainability within the maritime industry, we stand at the forefront of innovation and change.

23 February 2024

Commercial shipping Energy and resources

In the relentless pursuit of sustainability within the maritime industry, we stand at the forefront of innovation and change. Under the insightful leadership of Andrew (Andy) Harris, Technical Lead and Principal Naval Architect, we have embarked on a pioneering project within the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), and with research lead, Dr Hongjun Fan of the Australian Maritime College, aimed at revolutionising the way we think about vessel propulsion. This ambitious research initiative focuses on the feasibility of hydrogen and ammonia as green fuel alternatives, marking a significant step towards a zero-emission maritime future.

Main Objectives of the Research

The project led by Andy and his team of industry and academic professionals, is multi-faceted, with objectives that extend beyond the realms of mere technological feasibility. The primary goals include:

  • Conducting a comprehensive feasibility study into the maturity of hydrogen and ammonia-powered vessel technology.

  • Analysing the near-term market potential for such vessels within Australian waters and as exports.

  • Understanding the intricate relationship between the logistic supply chain for hydrogen fuels and the anticipated adoption of hydrogen vessel propulsion in Australia and New Zealand.

The Urgency for Change

With the maritime industry accounting for 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the shift towards green fuel options such as hydrogen and ammonia is not just innovative—it's imperative. This transition aligns with global efforts to reduce environmental impact, with the ambitious target of introducing the first zero-emission fleet by 2030. Countries across Europe are already making strides in developing hydrogen-powered vessels, setting a precedent for Australia and New Zealand to follow suit.

Navigating Challenges and Opportunities

The path to hydrogen-powered vessels is fraught with challenges, from safety concerns to economic viability and the need for specialised infrastructure. However, experimental vessels in the UK and Canada offer a glimpse into the potential that hydrogen fuel holds. This research project aims to explore these challenges in depth, drawing lessons from international efforts to pave the way for Australian-made hydrogen vessels.

The Path Forward

The outcome of this research will provide invaluable insights for a wide range of stakeholders, from naval architects and marine engineers to shipping companies and policymakers. By examining global best practices and assessing local capabilities, the project seeks to lay the groundwork for Australia and New Zealand's transition to a net-zero emission maritime industry.

Phase I Update: November 2023

In a significant milestone, the team released the Phase I report in November 2023, offering a thorough review of hydrogen's viability as a marine fuel in Australia. This report not only highlights the economic and technological feasibility of hydrogen-powered vessels but also examines regulatory readiness, safety design principles, and the specific vessel types best suited for hydrogen adoption.


As we continue to explore the untapped potential of hydrogen and ammonia for vessel propulsion, the maritime industry stands on the cusp of a new era. This research project not only signifies a pivotal shift towards sustainable maritime practices but also underscores our commitment to addressing complex, real-world problems through innovation and technical excellence. The journey towards a zero-emission shipping industry is challenging, yet with initiatives like these, it's a future well within our reach.


Meet the author

Andrew (Andy) Harris, Technical Lead and Principal Naval Architect

Andrew Harris is a chartered naval architect working primarily on Australian naval ship projects based in Adelaide. He has over 20 years experience in ship design from concept through to production, particularly through his former roles as Platform Architecture Manager for the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (UK). Formerly the Head of Naval Architecture for BMT’s UK defence company, Andrew has led teams of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and is well versed in the management of suppliers and subcontractors. These teams have included personnel drawn from multiple industrial organisations as well as the UK MoD.

Andrew has extensive knowledge of military requirements, processes and working practices for surface ship design. Since relocating to Australia, Andrew has increasingly worked in marine renewable energy fields and in options for decarbonisation of marine operations. Andrew is able to apply this knowledge in both the commercial shipping and naval sectors. Andrew has a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Ship Science.

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