Better air through the use of fuel cells

Schematic of the integration of the fuel cell system on a yacht. Photo: TKMS

08 August 2019 – The aim of the new “MultiSchIBZ” research project is to significantly reduce the pollutants and greenhouse gases produced by shipping. A consortium led by thyssenkrupp Marine Systems GmbH is developing a fuel cell system as an alternative power generation on ships. This will improve the efficiency of the plants and prevent emissions even when fossil fuels are used – both in berth operations in ports and inland waterways and on the high seas. A further advantage is their almost noiseless operation which makes them fit more easily into the environment.

The routes and ports for cargo and cruise ships are often close to city centres. Today, they are supplied with electricity and heat, even when lying down, by diesel engines, gas turbines and boiler systems. Diesel fuel and gas oils have been used so far. The resulting pollutant emissions, such as soot and nitrogen oxides, additionally pollute the air quality of inner cities, especially in the environmental zones.

In order to solve this problem, “MultiSchIBZ” will develop two prototypes of fuel cell systems suitable for practical use to technical maturity. The system is based on SOFC fuel cells which can be operated with low-sulphur diesel fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an energy source. A fuel gas generator converts the fossil fuel into a hydrogen-rich gas for operating the fuel cells. Compared with conventional propulsion systems using marine diesel as fuel, this is expected to reduce emissions by 99% for nitrogen oxides and particulate matter and by more than 25% for carbon dioxide. For the development of the technical components, the results and plants from two predecessor projects can be used. The aim is to optimize the existing components, which have already been tested in the laboratory, to further develop them for operation with LNG and to scale them up for the construction and operation of pilot plants with higher outputs.

OWI Oel-Waerme-Institut gGmbH and TEC4FUELS GmbH are also involved as project partners in the system development. The OWI contributes its know-how in the conversion of liquid energy sources and is responsible for the further development of the fuel gas generator, hot gas recirculation and the thermal start-up concept of the overall system. TEC4FUELS is a service provider in the fields of testing and engineering responsible for the development of an online sensor system and a forced test method for the respective operating fluids as well as material investigations that take into account the interactions with the fuel-carrying components.

After the development phase, a demonstration phase is planned in the project, in which several fuel cell APU´s will be tested on ships in real operation.

Coordinated by:
National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW)

Funded by:
Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure