Fuel Cells for Submarines

In perhaps one of more rare and unconventional uses of Renewable Energy technology, three Greek submarines will be equipped fuel cell units for the submarines’ main propulsion.

Hamburg, Germany – April 18, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The Siemens Industrial Solutions and Services Group (I&S) together with Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) of Kiel are to equip three Greek class 209 submarines with a propulsion system that is independent of an outside air supply. The project covers the supply of the PEM fuel-cell modules and the electrical equipment for integration into their existing propulsion system. In addition, an option has been agreed upon for a fourth installation. Delivery is scheduled to be between mid-2004 and 2010. Modernization of the roughly 25 years old class 209 submarines is intended to increase their submersed range to that of new ships. Earlier orders placed with Siemens both from Greece and also South Korea included the equipment for modern class 214 submarines. A PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) fuel cell system provides the power for the submarines when running submerged and so provides air-independent propulsion (AIP). The AIP system is an HDW development. Siemens is providing the fuel cell modules as well as the control and monitoring systems. The equipment to be supplied by Siemens is currently the most advanced type to supply air-independent power for non-nuclear submarines according to the company. The company’s scope of supply also includes the control cubicles of the fuel cell system (FCS), the control gear to integrate the FCS into the existing propulsion system, and material packages to modernize the existing electrical equipment. Modernization of the submarines will be undertaken by HDW, the FCS being incorporated as a new some seven-meter long hull section. A substantial part of the refurbishing and the commissioning will be carried out by HDW’s Greek subsidiary, Hellenic Shipyards Co. (HSY) of Skaramanga, Attica.

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