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EU-Funded Consortium Aims to Decarbonise Cruise Vessels

Alma Clean Power
MSC World Europa

Published Sep 7, 2022 7:10 AM by The Maritime Executive

Alma Clean Power with an EU funded consortium has launched the HELENUS-project aiming to demonstrate the feasibility of using Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) to provide heat and power onboard cruise vessels. Success of the project will enable upscaling of the SOFC technology in ocean cruise vessels, with the potential to cut emissions to zero and achieve significant fuel savings due to increased efficiency compared to alternative technologies.

The HELENUS consortium will build, integrate and demonstrate a 500kW solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) module operating in cogeneration mode, in an MSC World Class series ocean cruise vessel. The project is managed by DLR (Germany’s research centre for aeronautics and space) and has been funded with roughly 14 million EUR. The ship is expected to enter operation in 2026.

“This is our first full scale demonstrator with LNG in a new and important segment for us. Our ambition is to deliver a complete energy package for cruise vessels, both for heat and power onboard. The project fits perfectly into our roadmap towards the development of low and zero emission solutions for Deepsea shipping”, says Bernt Skeie, CEO in Alma Clean Power.

Choosing LNG, the cleanest fossil fuel, can be the first step towards zero emissions. Availability of green fuels is still limited, and Alma’s fuel cells will be able to switch to green fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen/ LOHC (Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers) when these become available. The same tank and fuel system can be used for LNG and ammonia, facilitating the green transition. Alma’s fuel cells can also operate on methanol, LPG, ethanol and syngas.

“When LNG is used in a SOFC there is no methane-slip and negligible sulphur and NOx emissions. The exhaust consists of concentrated CO2 and water, making CO2 capture very efficient and economically viable. With CO2 capture, cruise ships can achieve zero emissions with LNG”, says Elaine Maille, Project Manager for HELENUS.

A long-term goal of the HELENUS project is to demonstrate feasibility that a SOFC- ICE*-hybrid vessel can achieve an efficiency gain of 23%. The MSC cruise ship will be built at Chantiers de’Atlantique, while the Alma fuel cells will be manufactured in a new pilot production line in Bergen, Norway. In addition to the ship installation, an SOFC test unit will be delivered and integrated at DLR test facilities in Germany to be used for functional testing and validation of simulation models.

The HELENUS consortium involves diverse stakeholders representing the entire value chain from technology development to field implementation - creating a rapid pathway towards commercialisation.

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