Ballard Power Systems has just announced the introduction of a fuel cell module for the primary propulsion of ships. The new module, called FCwave, has an output of 200 kW and can be connected in series up to an output of several megawatts.
According to a statement by the rapidly growing Canadian fuel cell pioneer, the module is suitable for passenger and car ferries as well as tug and fishing boats, among others. It could also serve as a stationary energy supplier to cover auxiliary power requirements on cruise ships, for example. Ballard says that the FC module has a service life of “more than 30,000 hours”, system efficiency of at least 55 per cent and a weight of 4.4 kilograms per kilowatt-hour. According to Ballard, the range made possible by coupling several modules is “limited only by the volume of hydrogen fuel stored onboard”.
FCwave is currently in the type approval process at an internationally accredited registration and classification society, DNV-GL in Norway. Jesper Themsen, CEO of Ballard Power Systems Europe, emphasises the importance of the maritime sector for his company: “The International Maritime Organisation of the United Nations has set ambitious targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions, including 50 per cent less emissions by 2050. We at Ballard have recognised this market opportunity”. Among other things, Ballard’s Marine Center of Excellence was established this year in Hobro, Denmark – a facility that will focus on the development, production and maintenance of the FCwave module.
In addition to ships, Ballard’s fuel cell technology also powers commercial vehicles, trains, cars, forklifts and unmanned aerial vehicles. Since August 2018, the Chinese group Weichai Power has been the largest shareholder in Ballard Power Systems with 19.9 per cent. At the time, the Chinese group invested around 163 million dollars in the Canadian company. The partners also announced the establishment of the Weichai-Ballard Hy-Energy Technologies joint venture at the same time in which Weichai holds 51 and Ballard 49 per cent. The joint venture’s first production facility is scheduled to open this year in the Chinese province of Shandong.
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