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ABB and Ballard Power Systems to develop fuel cell power system for ships


July 30, 2018
By Ellen Cools


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Courtesy ABB

July 30, 2018 — ABB and Ballard Power Systems have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on developing the next-generation fuel cell power system for sustainable marine e-mobility.

The fuel cell power system will be jointly designed, developed and validated by ABB and Ballard Power Systems. The two companies will leverage the existing kW-scale fuel cell technologies and optimize them to create a MW-scale solution suitable for powering larger ships.

With an electrical generating capacity of 3MW, the new system will fit within a single module no bigger than a traditional marine engine running on fossil fuels.

Fuel cell systems can have various applications for vessels, such as providing power for a ship’s hotel operations during the time of docking, or for powering the propulsion when ships are at sea. During the initial phase, the collaboration will focus on the development of fuel cell power systems for passenger vessels.

The proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM) convert the chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity through an electrochemical reaction. They involve no combustion, converting fuel directly to electricity, heat and clean water. With the use of renewables to product the hydrogen, the energy chain can be clean.

“The next generation of ships — electric, digital and connected — will require energy sources that are not only able to meet the increasing demands for fuel efficiency, but will also enable cleaner and safer shipping,” said Peter Terwiesch, president of ABB’s Industrial Automation division. “We are excited to collaborate with Ballard Power Systems on driving the development of the next-generation fuel cell technology that will power the vessels of the future.”

Ballard has previously developed and deployed MW-scale containerized PEM fuel cell systems for land-based use, which gives the company the experience and knowledge to collaborate on the development of clean energy solutions for marine market applications, the company says.

Likewise, ABB is involved in collaborative development of the fuel cell technology for marine applications, including research, testing and a pilot installation implementation.