Thursday, June 28, 2018

Collaboration to Provide Zero Emission Fuel Power Cells for Powering Cargo and Cruise Vessels

Two Companies Cooperate to Help Clean Up the Merchant Fleet
Shipping News Feature
SWITZERLAND – CANADA – ABB, which works in the robotics and automation fields across a range of industries, and Ballard Power Systems, a global provider of clean energy fuel cell solutions, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on developing the next-generation fuel cell, power system for sustainable marine e-mobility. The pair will work at leveraging existing kilowatt-scale fuel cell technologies and optimise them to create a pioneering megawatt-scale solution suitable for powering larger ships as the search for fuel efficient and less polluting cargo and cruise vessels continues.

The fuel cell power system is to be jointly designed, developed and validated by ABB and Ballard Power Systems, with both companies expecting the technology to play a significant part in accelerating the industry-wide adoption of sustainable solutions for marine e-mobility, and help ship-owners meet the increasing demands for clean operations.

With an electrical generating capacity of 3MW (4000 HP), the new system will fit within a single module no bigger in size than a traditional marine engine running on fossil fuels. Peter Terwiesch, president ABB's Industrial Automation division, said:

“The next generation of ships, electric, digital and connected, will require energy sources that are not only able to meet the increasing demands for fuel efficiency, but will also enable cleaner and safer shipping. We are excited to collaborate with Ballard Power Systems on driving the development of the next-generation fuel cell technology that will power the vessels of the future.”

Fuel cell systems can have various applications for vessels and, during the initial phase, the collaboration will focus on the development of fuel cell power systems for passenger vessels. The proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM) convert the chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity through an electrochemical reaction. They involve no combustion, converting fuel directly to electricity, heat and clean water. With the use of renewables to produce the hydrogen, the entire energy chain can be clean. Rob Campbell, Chief Commercial Officer at Ballard Power Systems, commented:

“This MoU is a significant next step in our ongoing relationship with ABB, the innovative market leader in marine solutions. The rapidly evolving marine market represents an exciting growth opportunity for zero-emission fuel cell technology. And, Ballard’s prior development and deployment of megawatt-scale containerised PEM fuel cell systems for land-based use gives us the critical experience and knowledge to collaborate effectively on the development of clean energy solutions for key marine market applications.”

Reduction of pollutants and carbon emissions is of course currently a high-priority for the marine industry. Regulations to restrict diesel emissions are being introduced at the local and regional levels in various parts of the world, and this is generating interest in zero-emission fuel cell technology. Limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the use of hydrogen fuel cells is of particular interest in port cities, where significant multi-mode transportation opportunities exist to share centralised hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. This includes the presence of marine vessels, road haulage trucks, trains, forklifts and other transport vehicles at a single port facility.

The multi-year collaboration between Ballard and ABB will include joint market development activities, systems design and development work, as well as systems testing and validation activities. The goal will be development of commercial ready MW-scale containerised PEM fuel cell power systems for the marine market and systems could be used in a variety of ways, including provision of power for hotel operations while cruise ships are docked at port as well as the provision of primary propulsion power when ships are at sea.