Marine Vessels Benefit from Renewable Fuel Research

A project to develop and validate renewable-fuel-based technology onboard a cargo vessel involved in international trade is under way, due to Euro 1 million granted to a Wartsila-run research consortium by the European Union (EU). The group is charged with developing the use of methanol-consuming fuel cells to provide electrical power to marine vessels.

The entire project, “Validation of a Renewable Methanol Based Auxiliary Power System for Commercial Vessels” (METHAPU), will focus on the suitability of a methanol-based fuel cell system onboard the cargo vessel; components to be validated are methanol fuel bunkering, distribution, storage system and a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system that consumes methanol. Also needed is the technical groundwork to support the introduction of the regulations necessary that allow the use of methanol as a marine fuel. The consortium’s research will address the impact of the SOFC unit of 250-kW class on marine application issues, as well as its safety and reliability. The project, which will cost Euro 1.9 million in total, will take two and a half years. The regulations and technical requirements for using methanol as a marine fuel will pave the way for the commercial use of methanol-consuming fuel cells onboard commercial vessels. “We are very happy to have been selected for the EU grant. The construction and operation of this research unit running on renewable methanol will open up attractive opportunities for using sustainable fuels for fuel-cell-based distributed generation and auxiliary power units in large ships. In particular, this is an interesting option for reducing ship emissions when harboring,” says Erkko Fontell, General Manager, Fuel Cells, at Wartsila.
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