Innovation is nothing new to the shipping sector. But the scope of the transformation process that has been initiated to decarbonise nearly all shipping traffic opens up entirely new dimensions. Green hydrogen, its derivatives converted to e-fuels and PtX fuels, and the fuel cell systems operating on these fuels on board ships are in focus at the international trade fair for the shipping industry, SMM, where the maritime industrial and innovation cluster ‘e4ships’ highlights application concepts, scientific findings and practical experiences. Facing the escalating climate and energy crisis, the global shipping industry must meet the massive challenge of positioning itself for the evolving technology transformation process.
The focus is on developing green technologies and application concepts for various energy sources to achieve market maturity while creating safety regulations for approval and and operation of ships using innovative energy conversion systems and alternative fuels. International technical standards allowing fast, consistent certification without requiring individual prototype approvals are a prerequisite for broad, industry-wide implementation.
Through its multifaceted project e4ships – Fuel cells in maritime applications, Germany has made substantial progress in its efforts to make shipping sustainable. Leading German shipyards and ship-owners began cooperating with fuel cell manufacturers at an early time, developing fuel cell systems for the specific needs of ocean-going and inland ships in the demonstration projects Pa-X-ell2, ELEKTRA, MultiSchIBZ and RiverCell2.
The resulting technical findings were incorporated into the safety regulations for the approval of ships with on-board fuel cell systems developed recently by the international shipping organisations IMO and CESNI. In april 2022 the IMO Maritime Safety Committee approved the Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using fuel cell power installations, defining requirements for installation of these systems in commercial vessels. These guidelines establish a regulatory framework for emission-free operation of ships using efficient energy conversion systems and carbonneutral fuels while paving the way for a successful market ramp-up of fuel cell systems for the maritime sector.
The insights gained by the partners of the e4ships initiative, with funding provided by the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme (NIP), were major contributions to this achievement. The NIP is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PtJ). For more information on the demonstration projects and the e4ships innovation cluster please refer to the new brochure which may be accessed using the link or QR code below