Two push-barge combinations, each consisting of one motorised vessel and as many as three barges, are currently being constructed and another one is in the planning stage. Inland waterway vessels of this size and operational performance will be powered by a scalable and long-lasting lithium-ion battery combined with the latest stage VI engines and a fuel cell operated using hydrogen for the very first time. The new flagships can be reliably navigated, even in strong currents as they occur on the river Rhine, for example.
The “Rhenus Mannheim I+II” and the “Rhenus Ludwigshafen”, which is now being planned as well, have a fuel cell that uses hydrogen from the outset; the “Rhenus Wörth I+II” is “H2-ready” and its engines can be re-fitted to operate on hydrogen fuel at any time. This means that the emissions limits of the stage VI engines, which have been installed, are far below those of the stage V technology that is normally used for inland waterway shipping.
Having low-emission technology is not only one of the necessities in current and future inland waterway shipping. There is also a challenge that is becoming a more and more pressing problem: dry periods and the resulting shallow water levels on the waterways. By distributing the weight and using a new kind of propulsion concept, the new vessels operated by the Rhenus Group have a good floating position and can be deployed if the water level is just 1.20 m deep – this means that they can continue operating even during extreme shallow-water phases.
Representatives from Rhenus and Contargo presented the flagships, their technology and the strategic background in public for the first time at the ‘transport logistic’ fair.
You can find more material about the Rhenus Group and inland waterway vessels here.