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Fuel cells tested for world’s first hydrogen hybrid ferry conversion

ABB and SINTEF are working to provide the answers needed for Norwegian shipyard Fiskerstrand to convert an existing ferry to run on a combination of batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

Working with the SINTEF Ocean laboratory in Trondheim, ABB will assess how fuel cells and batteries can best function together for short-distance ferry operations, and how Fiskerstrand can integrate them with other engine room systems. The tests will also provide insight into the introduction of hydrogen fuel cells for future reviews of the rules covering shipboard use of hydrogen.

The tests will simulate the conditions the ferry is expected to encounter on a high-frequency 10-km (6.2-mile) route, to ensure that the propulsion systems, including fuel cells, are robust enough for repetitive, short-burst service duties.

“We expect to get a realistic view of what we need to do to achieve our objectives in delivering a ferry equipped with hydrogen fuel cell propulsion as part of our HybridShip project,” said Kåre Nerem, project manager, Fiskerstrand. “This is a pioneering project, and together we will ensure the solution is optimized for the specific ferry route and vessel.”

The HybridShip project, started in 2017 and driven by Fiskerstrand Holding, is supported by Norway’s Pilot-E technology accelerator program funded by the Research Council of Norway, Innovation Norway and the Enova Norwegian government enterprise. It envisages a zero-emissions passenger ship retrofitted with fuel cells operating on a domestic route by the end of 2020.

“The project is a major step toward the practical use of the hydrogen fuel cell as a maritime propulsion technology,” said Jostein Bogen, product manager for energy storage and fuel cells at ABB Marine & Ports. “The true significance of these tests will be in defining the optimum engine room configuration for hydrogen fuel cells to be installed and work day in, day out with other systems on board.”

The joint development program will also focus on finding solutions to support the hydrogen supply and bunkering infrastructure. In addition, outputs from the tests are expected to accelerate Norwegian Maritime Authority work in modifying regulations to better accommodate and approve hydrogen as a fuel.

- April 2019

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