Ex-ISRO Engineer Co-authors First ‘Hydrogen Ship Rules’

Padmini Mellacheruvu, a former engineer at ISRO, has helped write the world’s first ‘class rules’ for hydrogen powered ships. These rules will support the global shipping industry in its decarbonisation efforts and bring it closer to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature-warming limit.

Hydrogen is one of the alternative fuels that fleet owners are exploring to build and run ships in a greener way. Hydrogen fuelled ships have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, as hydrogen only produces water vapour when burned.

However, hydrogen also poses many technical challenges, such as storage, handling, safety, and compatibility with existing ship systems. To address these challenges, ship classification societies such as Lloyd’s Register provide classification and compliance services to the marine and offshore industries, helping ship owners design, construct, operate, and decommission their assets safely as per environmental expectations.

Lloyd’s Register, the oldest and one of the top global ship classification societies, has recently published the world’s first ‘class rules’ for hydrogen powered ships. These rules are based on extensive research and development, testing, and consultation with industry stakeholders. They provide guidance on how to design, build, and operate hydrogen fuelled ships in a safe and efficient manner.

One of the key contributors to this project was Padmini Mellacheruvu, a former engineer associated with cryogenic rocket systems at India’s space agency, ISRO. She joined Lloyd’s Register in 2019 as the ‘Lead Specialist for Cryogenic and Compressed Gas Fuels’. She brought her expertise in cryogenic engineering and hydrogen systems from the space industry to the marine industry.

Padmini said that she was proud to be part of this initiative and that it was a huge team effort rather than her leading on this. She said that she felt honoured to work with Lloyd’s Register and that she enjoyed the challenge of applying her knowledge to a new domain.

The ‘class rules’ for hydrogen powered ships are expected to pave the way for more innovation and adoption of hydrogen as a marine fuel in the future. They will also help the global shipping industry meet its decarbonisation targets set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which aims to reduce carbon intensity by at least 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

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