PowerCell, e1 Marine and Maritime Partners test first methanol-to-fuel cell power chain

Hydrogen fuel cell supplier PowerCell Group and methanol-to-hydrogen technology firm e1 Marine, in partnership with RIX Industries, have conducted a string test of their respective technologies for a 200kW propulsion chain as part of the validation of Maritime Partners LLC’s M/V Hydrogen One inland push boat.

Courtesy of PowerCell Group

The string test was performed on land at PowerCell Group’s headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, which involves assembling all of the key power-train components and testing them as a system.

According to PowerCell, the test results prove the viability of a concept that takes methanol fuel and converts it to hydrogen onboard ships before using the hydrogen in a fuel cell to generate power cleanly and efficiently.

The system is said to be the first of its kind and intended for use in many application segments such as tugboats, push-boats and superyachts. The M/V Hydrogen One’s 1.4MW methanol-to-hydrogen system is featured as the sole power generation source for its propulsion chain.

The specifics of using a methanol hydrogen generator is that it outputs low-pressure hydrogen on demand when needed. This enables a safe installation and highly integrated solutions which have minimal impact on the overall vessel design and does not have to be installed on weather decks, PowerCell explained.

Richard Berkling, CEO at PowerCell Group, said: “The successful completion of these tests gives future ship owners, integrators and methanol suppliers the confidence they need in this powerful combination of technologies. Fuel cells are some of the most efficient ways to extract energy from fuel, and we are deploying them at a scale never seen before. This can be seen in our project with Torghatten Nord, where we will supply 12,8 MW fuel cells on Norway’s longest ferry route – the largest maritime project to date. This string test demonstrates that whatever the fuel, the new generation of fuel cells is ready to use it.”

Robert Schluter, Managing Director at e1 Marine, added: “This rigorous test has delivered exciting results thanks to a great deal of collaboration between equipment suppliers, and the results should be a cause for optimism across the industry. This test demonstrates that a methanol-to-hydrogen power chain is ready and waiting to deliver renewable power to a range of maritime applications.”

Austin Sperry, President and Co-Founder at Maritime Partners, remarked: “We too are pleased by the results and system validation, allowing the M/V Hydrogen One to hit the water in 2024.”

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