Technology specialist Freudenberg Sealing Technologies and one of the largest shipyards for the construction of cruise ships, Meyer Werft, plan to equip next-gen cruise ships with fuel cell propulsion. First trials are set for 2021.
The trials are part of a larger project for zero-emission mobility at sea called Pa-X-ell2. Freudenberg and Meyer Werft will jointly develop a new generation of fuel cells for use on seagoing vessels with Freudenberg acting as a technology partner. The fuel cell technology largely bases on hydrogen reformed from methanol. When used as an energy source, methanol also offers excellent properties in terms of storage volume, claims Freudenberg.
The first practical tests onboard the cruise ship AIDAnova are planned as early as 2021. This requires the fuel cells to last much longer than the batteries used in passenger cars. Initial tests have shown that the service life of more than 35,000 operating hours can be achieved.
Freudenberg says it builds on know-how it has built up over decades, also by acquiring a fuel cell manufacturer at the beginning of 2018. At the same time, the former sealing specialist has taken on expertise in battery technology as it holds the majority of shares in the US manufacturer XALT Energy. The latter specialises in battery-electric drives for heavy vehicles. Freudenberg considers the combination of these two technologies for clean drives ideal for series production in the future. An example is Freudenberg’s development project with Flixbus where a hybrid system that combines battery and fuel cells is planned is to enable long-distance transport.
In the case of cruise ships, however, the Pa-X-ell2 project is being publicly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) as part of the ‘National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology’ (NIP). Besides Meyer Werft and Freudenberg, the project consortium includes Lürssen Werft, DNV GL, the German Aerospace Center, AIDA Cruises represented by Carnival Maritime GmbH, besecke and EPEA GmbH.