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Maersk to Test Green Methanol Fuel Cells After Breakthrough Demonstration

Maersk methanol containership
Maersk has begun introducing its methanol-fueled vessels, the first large containerships to use the alternative fuel and the test ground for new technologies (Maersk)

Published Jun 26, 2024 6:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The startup Blue World Technologies is reporting it achieved a breakthrough by demonstrating the first high-power maritime fuel cell system to run on green methanol. Maersk is an investor in the company and has committed to the first pilot system installation which is expected in 2026.

The company reports it completed the successful tests of a 200 kW high-temperature PEM fuel cell module at its facility in Aalborg, Denmark. The results are reported to have exceeded performance expectations. Blue World reports that the system provides high-grade waste heat of 150 degrees C and when it reaches the commercial stage it will have an efficiency of up to 55 percent which typically provides a fuel savings of 20 to 30 percent.

“This is a major breakthrough within maritime decarbonization and with the test of our 200-kW system, we are proving that the HT PEM fuel cell technology has the potential of being one of the key technologies to decarbonize the hard-to-abate sectors,” said Dennis Naldal Jensen, Chief Technology Officer at Blue World Technologies. “During the test period, we successfully validated our system setup with the methanol fuel processor, the series connection of the fuel cell stacks, as well as the balance of plant components surrounding the fuel cells”

Blue World reports it will initially supply systems for auxiliary power aiming to replace conventional fossil-based gensets. They also report that the fuel cell system allows for up to 100 percent carbon capture providing for the potential utilization in green fuel production or storage. Blue World expects the maritime system will reach a commercial level in 2027. 

Eventually, the company will proceed to supply large multi-megawatt propulsion systems for fuel cell-based propulsion systems. They also note that the system is built with a modular approach, allowing for fuel cell power systems as containerized solutions on deck or integrated on the ship.

“Having worked with fuel cell technology for more than 20 years, it is amazing for us to reach this stage of the technology development, where we with these large systems can provide a strong alternative to an industry that is heavily dependent on fossil-based technologies,” said Anders Korsgaard, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder at Blue World Technologies.

The first pilot will be a 1 MW system for onboard power production. The system will be installed on one of A.P. Moller – Maersk’s large dual fuel-enabled methanol vessels. They expect the installation will take place during the first half of 2026.

Maersk Growth, the venture arm of A.P. Moller – Maersk, participated at the end of 2023 in an €11 million fundraising. The Export and Investment Fund of Denmark (EIFO), Cycle Group, and other new and existing shareholders also participated in the fundraising.