Fuel Cell Container Feeder

By Keith Henderson at July 28, 2011 04:57
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Last month, Germanischer Lloyd - GL Group, hosted a GL Exchange Forum titled "Towards a Cleaner Maritime Industry" held at the new Maritime Museum Hamburg, Germany.

In response to the question, “how can the industry best meet the challenges of reducing emissions, increasing efficiency, and minimizing impacts?” breakthrough technologies are needed to meet proposed CO2 emission reduction targets. The European Union (EU) emission target for shipping from year 2005 to 2050 is a 40 to 50 per cent reduction, therefore zero emission ships need to be considered to meet this target.

Caption: The GL ZERO fuel cell powered container
concept vessel for Northern European feeder services.
Image credit: GL Group

Dr. Pierre. C. Sames, Senior Vice President Strategic Research and Development of GL Maritime Services presented a future concept of a zero-emission container feeder vessel.
The container ship, aimed at Northern European feeder services, uses liquid hydrogen as fuel to generate power with a combined fuel cell and battery system.

The design of the container ship with capacity for 1000TEUs with 150 reefer slots, is for a full open top giving improved port efficiency and reduced loading / unloading times to further reduce CO2 emissions.

Caption; Stern view drawing showing the twin azimuthing pods.
Image credit: GL Group

Propulsion is by two azimuthing podded propulsors and one take me home thruster providing redundancy and superior manoeuverability. The service speed is 15kn. To increase redundancy two separate power generation rooms are located, one in the bows and the other in the stern. The 920m3 (65 tonnes) of liquid hydrogen fuel, sufficient for 10 days consumption, will be stored in multiple type C tanks. Electrical energy is produced from ten fuel cell modules of 0.5 MW each and there is a battery system with 3 MWh to deliver peak power.

Caption: Cutaway view of the starboard bow section of the GL ZERO showing the
forward power generation compartments containing gas tanks, fuel cells and battery.
Image credit: GL Group

An important if not fundamental “ingredient” of hydrogen powered vessels is the availability of the liquid hydrogen fuel. The EU energy target is to produce 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, the German target is to install 3GW of offshore wind power generation by 2020.

The concept envisions that the liquid hydrogen would be produced and stored offshore close to a wind farm. Surplus energy from the wind farm would be used for hydrogen production. A 500 MW wind farm could use its surplus energy for hydrogen production sufficient for up to 5 container feeder vessels, as estimated by Dr. Sames. Fast bunkering with two bunker stations can reduce the time for refueling to less than 3 hours.

The cost of liquid hydrogen produced offshore is several times higher than currently used marine gas oil (MGO), however, it is expected that costs for MGO could be similar to costs for liquid hydrogen after 2025 if emission surcharges are introduced.

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