Carnival Corp brand AIDA Cruises is to pilot the world’s first fuel cell system designed to power large passenger vessels
As early as 2021, AIDA Cruises will trial this innovative fuel technology on AIDAnova, becoming the cruise industry’s first brand to trial fuel cells on a large cruise ship.
The research project, named Pa-X-ell2, is designed to develop fuel cells powered by hydrogen derived from methanol, with the potential to supply power to cruise ships at even lower emissions levels than liquefied natural gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel. Designed by Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the fuel cells are expected to have a longer lifecycle than those currently being developed for automobiles, with early trials on land showing a lifespan of over 35,000 operating hours.
Developed as a hybrid energy system for use in cruise ships, the fuel cells will be designed to enable benefits beyond significantly lower emissions, including operating with lower noise and vibration. In the future there is the potential for the required methanol to be produced from renewable energy sources.
Funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the Pa-X-ell2 research project will include AIDA Cruises, represented by Carnival Corp’s Hamburg-based Carnival Maritime GmbH, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the Meyer Werft shipyard and other partners.
"With the first-time use of fuel cells on board an oceangoing cruise ship, we will reach another important milestone on our journey to emissions-neutral cruising," said AIDA Cruises president Felix Eichhorn. "Our goal is to continue to show concrete solutions for achieving our climate targets."
As part of Carnival Corp’s innovative green cruising strategy, the fuel cell pilot is the most recent in an ongoing series of environmental initiatives and major technological advances for the company’s AIDA Cruises brand. Last month, the brand signed an agreement to install a first-of-its-kind lithium-ion battery power system on its AIDAperla ship in 2020, which will be the world’s largest battery storage system ever on a passenger ship, capable of generating a total output of 10-MWh to help electrify the ship’s propulsion and operation.
AIDA is also exploring using CO2-free production of LNG from renewable sources through its Power to Gas project or using fuel cells in cruise shipping. By the end of 2023, 94% of all AIDA guests will travel on ships that can be fully powered by low-emission LNG or shore power where possible.