The methanol-operated fuel cell system set to be installed on a cruise ship operated by AIDA Cruises, a Carnival Corporation brand, has reached a new milestone having secured an Approval in Principle (AiP) from DNV GL.
As a result, AIDA Cruises will be the world’s first cruise company to test the use of fuel cells on a large passenger ship.
The fuel cell has been developed by Freudenberg Sealing Technologies as part of a research project backed by the German Government, and it runs on hydrogen obtained from methanol.
The AiP sets the stage to move to further testing and installation of the system on board the AIDAnova cruise ship in 2021 as part of the Pa-X-ell 2 research project.
The project aims to develop a decentralized energy network and a hybrid energy system with a new generation of fuel cells for use in oceangoing passenger vessels.
Aside from Freudenberg, AIDA Cruises, and DNV GL, Lürssen and German shipbuilder Meyer Werft are also working on the project.
The fuel cell
The fuel cell system uses methanol to bolster the volumetric energy density of hydrogen by chemically binding the regeneratively produced hydrogen.
Hydrogen has a seven times lower energy density than conventional marine diesel, hence its use as a marine fuel onboard vessels operated on the high seas would require huge fuel tanks, taking up the space intended for cargo or passengers.
Fuel cells enable power supply on board with lower emissions than is currently possible with liquefied natural gas (LNG), and they produce low noise and vibration during operation, as explained by Carnival.
The fuel cells made by Freudenberg Sealing Technologies are designed to have a far longer useful life than cells intended for use in cars.
The manufacturer’s first trials ashore have shown that a lifetime of over 35,000 operating hours can be achieved.
Furthermore, FST has developed a fuel cell operated with methanol in a container design. The individual container can have a rated output of up to 500 kilowatts and can be scaled with additional units to achieve total outputs in the double-digit megawatt range.
AIDAnova, delivered in 2018 by Meyer Werft, is the world’s first cruise ship that is entirely powered by LNG. Two further LNG-powered AIDA cruise ships, built by the Meyer Werft shipyards in Rostock and Papenburg, are expected to be put into service by 2023.
The cruise major is also working on a project that will see the installation of the world’s biggest battery storage system on a passenger ship, AIDAperla, to date, with total output of 10-megawatt hours.
As part of its Green Cruising strategy, AIDA is also exploring the possibility of CO2-free extraction of liquefied gas from renewable sources.
By the end of 2023, AIDA Cruises estimates that 94 percent of its guests will be traveling on ships that can be fully powered by LNG or operated in port with green shore power.