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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Assimilation of Fuel Cells in marinetime applications

Final Report Summary - NEW-H-SHIP (Assimilation of Fuel Cells in marinetime applications)

The aim of the NEW H SHIP project was to identify technical and operational obstacles related to the shipboard system- requirements and infrastructure for maritime fuels. As preparation for real demonstrations, the project suggested mitigating actions so that investments and the technology for using hydrogen on board will be feasible and secure. Taking fuel cells and hydrogen aboard a ship will demonstrate a fairly new technology in a completely new environment, which is both wet and salty and hard on electronic equipment. This offers new challenges related to the shipboard requirements.

The project consortium was a strong combination of ten organisations including manufacturing companies and research institutes, each a leading body in its field (hydrogen production, specific maritime research institutes, ship engine manufacturer, socio-economic research, etc.). The advantage of this group of companies was that already there had been cooperation between most of the partners in the projects in the same field.

The main goals of the project were:
- identification of technical barriers (showstoppers) for FC and H2 on board ships;
- mapping the road to H2 drive propulsion in ships and making recommendations for further research and development (R&D);
- creation of reference list of R&D activities regarding fuel cells and hydrogen in maritime applications;
- the project will identify supporting European activities in the field of hydrogen and fuel cells in maritime applications and pre-screen potential partners.

The project was divided into four subtasks, each focused on one specific target.

Task 1. The first task was to compile information from projects like FCSHIP, EURO HYPORT and EQHHPP, including such as design specification and conceptual designs and make it available to the NEW H SHIP project.

Task 2. In the second task the information gathered through task 1, specifically including the conceptual designs developed, was handled for identification of project stoppers using acknowledged methods for structured workshops, including risk assessment. The responsible work task leader DNV organised a workshop to summaries partners approach and information. Supportive data (including information from MTU's yacht demonstration) and activity in workshops was provided by MTU.

Task 3. Task tree dealt with the identification of supporting European activities. This meant mapping of supporting R&D activities in Europe and by that forming an update of the R&D reference list created in the FC-SHIP project.

Task 4. The fourth task was among the most important ones. This task included pre-screening of potential partners and critical risk elements for a future H2 fuelled ship demonstration project. Tasks 2 and 3 above provided the starting point for the evaluation of potential partners for the suitability for setting up a real demonstrator. Initial contacts were made to all groups trying to form a demonstration project at that time and the critical risk elements discussed for solutions. Big efforts were put into trying to find a common ground for a project proposal but unfortunately without success, mostly due to lack of commitment from the industry and / or lack of clear policy of the funding organisations towards H2 fuelled ships. However, part of the NEW H SHIP group did participate in the EU proposal WHALE which was an Italian initiative offering other European partners to join in on a demonstration project in Venice, demonstrating a small passenger boat propelled with hydrogen. Unfortunately this proposal was not approved for funding by the EU.

The products of the project were in the form of reports. Four reports were made:
- reference list of R&D activities regarding fuel cells and hydrogen in maritime applications (public);
- recommendations for further R&D (public);
- feasibility for shipboard use of hydrogen and fuel cells (public);
- list of pre-screened participants for the next step, including evaluation of resources (restricted to the project group and the commission).

As is identified in this project there are no showstoppers that were discovered. The main issues regarding using hydrogen in ships seem to be connected to storage of H2 on board the larger vessels (specifically, those who are at sea for weeks or months). However, smaller vessels and also those ships that come frequently into harbour can use hydrogen for main propulsion (larger ferries might start with APU systems). Storage of hydrogen is therefore ranked as one of the key elements for research. Currently, there are many such projects ongoing and results from them will be beneficial for maritime applications also. However, it should be pointed out that there is not a very high priority in projects on chemical storage, for example sodium borohydride NaBH4, which could be a good application for marine applications. Connected to storage, but potentially different from conventional transport applications is the availability and distribution of hydrogen for marine applications. The distribution network for marine application is likely to differ from the future hydrogen distribution network for other transport applications.

Practical design and operation is missing. Already there have been almost none demonstrations of marine applications, but the one that is described in other documents of this project is the yacht operation on the Lake Constance. That showed that the technology worked well for such an application but unfortunately a follow up was not successful. Closely connected to a practical design and operation are regulations, codes and standards (RCS). Currently they are incomplete and non-harmonised.

At this stage in the general development of hydrogen technologies investment costs and operation will be higher than for conventional ships. Already, considerable measures have been taken by both the EU and national governments to initiate programs involving vehicles and buses. Similar incentives are necessary for marine applications if such projects are to become a reality in the near future. In this sense, financial incentives may be a necessary tool for the initial steps.

Already, considerable know-how has been generated regarding use of hydrogen in the transport sector. Specifically, the projects of CUTE and ECTOS (bus demonstration) should be identified in that regard. Valuable learning has been generated in those two projects and that can strongly benefit projects which take the technology out to sea. However, it is of utmost importance to set up similar projects as the CUTE / ECTOS are in the marine sector with multi stakeholder participation to learn and to overcome most of the potential barriers mentioned here above.