September 15, 2009
Marine fuel cell project passes a milestone
Installation of a full scale fuel cell on board the Eidesvik offshore supply vessel Viking Lady in Stord, Norway, marks an important milestone for the FellowSHIP project.
According to project partner DNV, Viking Lady will be the first merchant vessel ever to test fuel cell technology for production of electricity on board.
The FellowSHIP project was initiated by DNV in 2003 to adapt fuel cell technology for use for the future propulsion of vessels. The fuel cell system now installed in Viking Lady has been tested onshore at Stord for the past couple of months. The next step will be testing of the fuel cell at sea.
"A lot of development still remains to be done, but I am convinced that fuel cells will have an important role in the future of shipping," says
DNV project manager Tomas Tronstad.
The project has developed a fuel cell power system rated at 320 kW. Fuel cell technology on this scale has never before been installed in merchant vessels, says DNV.
The FellowSHIP project is a joint industry project managed by DNV. The fuel cell has developed by MTU Onsite Energy GmbH. The supply vessel Viking Lady which will be used as a test laboratory for the fuel cell is owned by Eidesvik. Wärtsilä Ship Design has designed and adapted the vessel, while Wärtsilä Norway has developed the power electronics and control systems that connect the fuel cell to the ship's onboard electric grid.
DNV has approved the system considering all safety- and risk aspects of the installed equipment. The development of class rules for installation of fuel cells on board vessels has been an important part of the project.
The project is supported by the Norwegian Research Council, Innovation Norway and the German Federal Minestry of Economics and Technology
The only "exhaust" of fuel cells is heat and water. If fuelled by carbon-containing fuels such as natural gas, the exhaust will contain CO2, but reduced by up to 50% compared to diesel engines run on marine bunker fuel. Fuel cell technology is inherently silent and vibration-free. This increases passenger comfort and improves the working environment for the crew. Further, the simpler designs with fewer moving parts require far less maintenance. Also, fuel cell technology is modular, enabling systems to be configured for efficient use of onboard space. This versatility, coupled with reduced costs and clean emissions, makes fuel cell technology the bow wave of the future of commercial shi
While fuel cells used in cars and buses are based on low temperature cell known as "proton exchange membrane cells" (PEM), the FellowSHIP project utilizes a Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC), categorized as a high temperature fuel cell. While PEM cells require very pure hydrogen, or methanol, as fuel, high temperature fuel cells are fuel flexible, with the ability to operate on natural gas, biogas, sewage gas, landfil gas, methanol, propane etc, in addition to hydrogen. With a carbon containing fuel, a reforming of the incoming fuel will take place at the anode, producing CO2 and hydrogen. The hydrogen so produced will then take part in an electrochemical process where the energy chemically stored in the hydrogen molecule H2 s is transferred to electricity directly. The process avoids the otherwise common combustion process, thereby reducing losses, increasing overall efficiency and avoiding byproducts such as formation of particulates and NOx. Since the fuel used contains no sulfur, there will be no formation of SOx.