ABB and Ballard Power Systems have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on developing the next-generation fuel cell power system.
The fuel cell power system, to be jointly designed, developed and validated by ABB and Ballard Power Systems, is anticipated to play a significant part in accelerating the industry-wide adoption of sustainable solutions for marine e-mobility, and help shipowners meet the increasing demands for clean operations.
ABB and Ballard Power Systems will leverage the existing kilowatt-scale fuel cell technologies and optimise them to create a pioneering megawatt-scale solution suitable for powering larger ships.
The new system will fit within a single module no bigger than a traditional marine engine running on fossil fuels.
“This MoU is a significant next step in our ongoing relationship with ABB, the innovative market leader in marine solutions,” said Ballard Power Systems chief commercial officer Rob Campbell.
“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 proton exchange membrane 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.”
Fuel cell systems can have various applications for vessels, such as providing power for a ship’s hotel operations during docking, or for powering the propulsion when ships are at sea.
During the initial phase, the collaboration will focus on developing fuel cell power systems for passenger vessels.
The proton exchange membrane fuel cells 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. By using renewables to produce the hydrogen, the entire energy chain can be clean.
“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,” said ABB's Industrial Automation division president Peter Terwiesch.
“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.”
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