Photo: IMO

IMO CCC 7 agrees on guidelines for ships using fuel cells

Draft interim guidelines aimed at providing international standard provisions for ships using fuel cell power installations have been agreed by International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC 7).

Photo: IMO

The guidelines cover issues including fire systems and gas/vapour detection. They are intended to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electrical and/or thermal energy through the use of fuel cell technology, the UN maritime body said.

A fuel cell is a source of electrical power in which the chemical energy of a fuel cell fuel is converted directly into electrical and thermal energy by electrochemical oxidation. Fuel cells can operate using hydrogen –which has the potential to be explosive — as the fuel source.

The draft interim guidelines will be forwarded to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) for approval at its 105th session, scheduled to meet in April 2022, the IMO said.

The development of these interim guidelines for safety of ships using fuel cells is part of the work being carried out by the Sub-Committee in the context of shipping’s need for new fuels and propulsion systems to meet decarbonisation ambitions set out in the Initial IMO GHG Strategy.

The introduction of the guidelines came shortly after the launch of the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the United States.

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In August 2021, Washington-based boat builder All American Marine (AAM) and shipowner SWITCH Maritime launched and started operational trials of Sea Change, a 70-foot, 75-passenger zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell-powered, electric-drive ferry that will operate in the California Bay Area.