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ABB to Power River Vessel with Hydrogen Fuel Cells
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ABB to Power River Vessel with Hydrogen Fuel Cells

400kW fuel cell to power vessel operations

TLME News Service

ABB strengthens its position in the marine market as a frontrunner on hydrogen fuel cell technology through its role in FLAGSHIPS, the EU-funded initiative to deploy commercially operated zero-emission vessels for inland and short sea operations.

Under this initiative, ABB will provide a fuel cell based power and propulsion solution for a newbuilt push boat for the France-based Sogestran Group subsidiary Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT), due for delivery in 2021.

With hydrogen for the fuel cells sourced from shore-based renewable energy, the complete vessel energy chain will be emission-free.

Said Matthieu Blanc, COO at CFT: “CFT has been an inland waterways innovator for more than half a century. Powering river transport in a sustainable way is a new type of challenge, but it has become vital that we cut emissions on Europe’s inland waterways and specifically in the city centers.

“With this project, we aim to highlight that emission-free operation is both feasible and commercially viable,”

Said Peter Terwiesch, President of the Industrial Automation business at ABB, which offers solutions for a wide range of industries, including marine: “Taking an active role in the FLAGSHIPS initiative, ABB continues to push the boundaries of e-mobility in shipping.

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“As one of the world’s leading enablers of sustainable transportation, ABB is committed to writing the future of the marine industry that will see vessels plying the world’s waters more cleanly and efficiently.”

With maritime transport estimated to emit around 940 million tons of CO2 annually, there is an increased pressure for the shipping industry to deploy means of reducing harmful pollutants.

Fuel cell technology is widely considered as one of the most promising sustainable energy solutions for reducing marine emissions worldwide.

Fuel cells turn the chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity through an electrochemical reaction. They convert fuel directly to electricity, heat and clean water.

As a FLAGSHIPS member since the project’s start in January 2019, ABB has been working closely with Finnish research organization and project coordinator VTT and clean energy fuel cell solutions provider Ballard Power Systems Europe to develop an installation enabling a 400kW fuel cell to power vessel operations.

The project objective is to demonstrate that fuel cells are a practical and deliverable propulsion solution for owners and builders of mid-sized vessels carrying more than 100 passengers or the equivalent freight volumes inland or coastally.

For this reason, the scope of FLAGSHIPS also includes assessing the operational impact of the switch to hydrogen as a fuel.

Once the fuel cell power plant has been fitted, the plan is to run the vessel daily, with special attention being paid to the refueling procedures needed to meet the operating schedule.

Trials will therefore also provide insights into developing and optimizing the refueling infrastructure needed for hydrogen fuel cells in marine operations.

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