Hydrotug, the world's first hydrogen-powered tugboat: a true Belgian innovation


CMB.TECH, a division of the Antwerp-based shipping company Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), has built a world first: a tugboat with a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine.

Tugboats traditionally run on diesel engines, which can easily be converted to dual fuel engines. This means that a significant proportion of diesel is replaced with cleaner fuel, such as hydrogen. The Hydrotug is the first tugboat to use that technology. It measures about 30 m long by 12 m wide and it can hold 415 kg of compressed hydrogen, allowing it to save emissions equivalent to those of 350 cars.

The Hydrotug will be deployed by Port of Antwerp-Bruges for its daily operations from 2023. It will affirm CMB's international role as a leader in the transition to environmentally friendly shipping and a climate-neutral port by 2050. In port areas, the project can encourage the construction of hydrogen infrastructure. One example is the hydrogen refuelling station next to the port of Antwerp. Currently over 10,000 tugboats are in operation worldwide and CMB is clearly aiming to improve the sustainability of that market; this is all the more important because it will benefit air quality in the ports immensely. The company already has another achievement under its belt, having designed a hydrogen-powered shuttle for offshore wind turbine maintenance personnel.

We say the future looks promising for CMB.