A fuel-cell system based on high-temperature proton exchange membrane (HTPEM) technology from Blue World Technologies is being constructed for testing at Alfa Laval’s Test & Training Centre in Aalborg, Denmark
The Alfa Laval-managed project is funded by Danish EUDP (Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program) and partners include fuel-cell maker Blue World Technologies.
Three vessel owners – DFDS, Maersk Drilling and Hafnia – will contribute insights regarding the operational and commercial implementation of the fuel-cell system.
In September 2020, DFDS revealed plans to move away from fossil fuels and is involved in plans to build a hydrogen-fuelled ferry. Drill rig operator Maersk Drilling has extensive experience of using auxiliary power for special applications and Hafnia, owner of one of the world’s largest product tanker fleets, has a strategy of transitioning to future marine fuels with a special interest in methanol bunkering and operations.
The test installation, which will use methanol as fuel, will explore the technology’s potential as a source of marine auxiliary power.
The aim is to establish a highly efficient and cost-effective HTPEM fuel-cell system, giving marine vessels a realistic alternative to combustion-based auxiliary power within the near future. The partners said the fuel-cell test setup will have a power of 200 kW, but expect that the fully developed design can be scaled up incrementally to 5 MW.
During the planned testing at the Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre, the focus will be the fuel-cell system’s durability. HTPEM fuel cells have a higher tolerance for thermal cycling than other fuel cell types, which makes them better suited to the variable power production needed from a genset.
Nonetheless, the technology will need a lifespan comparable to that of combustion technologies to be feasible on board, which will mean addressing sources of performance degradation.
Alfa Laval Marine Division head of technology development Lars Skytte Jørgensen said “Alongside our efforts with solid-oxide fuel cells in SOFC4Maritime and the work with methanol combustion already underway at the Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre, this project is a key step in moving the industry into a carbon-neutral fuel landscape.”
Blue World Technologies chief operating officer and co-founder Mads Friis Jensen added “Building on the scalability of automotive applications, we are convinced that methanol fuel-cell systems can drastically reduce maritime climate and environmental impact. By further developing our technology in partnership with marine colleagues, and by ramping up our production capacity at the same time, we can deliver a fuel-cell solution that is green, operationally sound and also commercially viable.”
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