Photo: MSC World Europa (Source: MSC Cruises)

MSC World Europa paving way for maritime decarbonization

California-based Bloom Energy, French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique (CdA), and the cruise division of Swiss MSC Group have revealed plans to launch the first cruise ship operating on solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology.

As disclosed, the MSC World Europa, a new cruise liner is currently under construction at the CdA shipyard. Bloom will fit the ship with 150 kilowatts of fuel cells and provide auxiliary power through liquefied natural gas (LNG).

According to Bloom, the fuel-flexible platform is designed to generate electricity 20 to 30 per cent more efficiently through a non-combustion electrochemical process when utilizing LNG compared to traditional marine combustion-based propulsion and auxiliary engines.

It is said to reduce carbon equivalent emissions up to 60 per cent compared to incumbent propulsion sources, such as dual-fuel diesel-electric, and emit virtually zero harmful air pollutants like sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.

“The emergence of LNG as a viable, lower-carbon fuel combined with the adaptability of Bloom’s fuel cells will support the maritime industry’s ambitious climate goals, such as the International Maritime Organization’s mandate to halve greenhouse emissions in coming years”, said Tim Schweikert, senior managing director, international business development, Bloom Energy.

“Notably, as the hydrogen economy matures and supply becomes more widely available, Bloom’s fuel-flexible platform will help power marine vessels with net-zero emissions”.

Commenting on the project, Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of cruise division at MSC Group, said: “This is one of the many projects we are working on, and we will be relentless in our pursuit of the best solutions to reach this key objective for us. As part of this project, the crew of MSC World Europa will be specifically trained to operate this innovative technology and their participation will greatly contribute to the future development of SOFC technology for our industry”.

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Sea trials for the MSC World Europa are expected to commence in the second half of 2022. Larger fuel cell installations are anticipated on additional ships in collaboration with CdA in the future, Bloom informed.

In 2019, CdA and the cruise division of MSC Group unveiled Blue Horizon, an initiative that integrates SOFC technology on LNG-powered cruise ships to decarbonize the maritime industry. Blue Horizon received approval from the classification company Bureau Veritas for MSC World Europa.

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As for Bloom Energy, the collaboration represents the most recent in the company’s ongoing efforts to decarbonize the maritime industry.

This summer, Bloom’s initial design for an engineless, fuel cell-powered LNG carrier in conjunction with Samsung Heavy Industries received Approval in Principle from DNV. The company also received verification as an alternative power source for vessels as part of the American Bureau of Shipping’s New Technology Qualification.

Video credit: Bloom Energy