The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMDV) is funding the development of a powerful large-scale fuel cell system for maritime shipping with a total of around EUR 15.6 million.

The system is to be tested on board a cruise ship.

Federal Minister Volker Wissing said:

The goal is clear: ocean shipping should also become climate-neutral. As the Federal Government, we support shipping in further developing innovative technologies on the way to this goal. German companies are already pacesetters in this development. With our funding, the world's first fuel cell system of this type was developed on a cruise ship in Germany. We want to build on this successfully and, in the next step, advance the upscaling of the technology on a large scale and under real operating conditions.

For this ‘HyCruisE’ research and development project, Freudenberg e-Power Systems and MEYER WERFT GmbH & Co. KG are aiming to further develop a new type of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell system with integrated reformer technology for the bridging fuel LNG or renewable gases, also known as synthetic natural gas (SNG).

As part of this project, a large-scale fuel cell system in the megawatt range is to be set up and tested for the first time. The funding comes from the German government’s National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP) pot.

In order to put the large-scale HyCruisE system into practice, new reformer technology for the efficient production of reformed hydrogen on board must be developed on the one hand, and fuel cell technology suitable for heavy loads must be scaled on the other. This is realised in mechanically and thermally highly integrated individual systems in the performance class of 500kW each. On the basis of their modular integration capability, these individual systems are integrated into a large fuel cell system on board a cruise ship owned by the Silversea Cruises shipping company and tested in real use. In the future, the large-scale fuel cell system will supply the ship’s entire hotel operations. In addition, the electrical and thermal integration as well as the new safety technology for fuel cell systems with LNG or SNG on board passenger ships are the focus of development.

A Silversea Cruises cruise ship
A Silversea Cruises cruise ship

The NIP is co-ordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by the project management agency Jülich (PTJ).

Kurt Christoph von Knobelsdorff, CEO NOW GmbH, said:

With energy-efficient and environmentally friendly fuel cell systems, fuel consumption and emissions in shipping can be significantly reduced. This results in enormous application potential for covering the high hotel loads that occur on cruise ships. Once installed, the systems can also be flexibly supplied with fuels that are increasingly produced from renewable sources. A large fuel cell system, such as that being developed with the HyCruisE project, is therefore a sensible and logical step towards climate-friendly shipping.

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