Case Story: RiverCell

Advent Serene Fuel Cells to Maritime

Over 90 percent of world trade is carried across the world’s oceans by some 90,000 marine vessels. The shipping industry is responsible for a considerable proportion of the global climate change problem: More than three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to inland and sea-going ships.

The course to zero emission in maritime transportation is being set and defined these years. Collaborations across the maritime value chain are part of the solution and so is the inclusion of sustainable technologies. The journey towards NetZero is not a straightforward one. It requires pioneering companies that invest in demonstrations, challenging existing standards, and so setting new levels and paving for an alternative future where fuel cell technologies can be considered keys to transitions.

A prime project within this category is RiverCell. RiverCell is a demonstration project funded by the German government as part of the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP) and is supported by a consortium of partners. It was initiated in 2015 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. The project consortium, which is led by Meyer Werft, consists of a range of experienced partners throughout the maritime industry: DNV, HADAG, Helm Proman Methanol, Neptun Werft, Pella Sietas, Technische Universität Berlin, Viking River Technical Cruises, Advent Technologies and is part of the innovation cluster e4ships.

In RiverCell a safe practical solution for a hybrid electric energy system for inland waterway ships using fuel cells is being developed. The project aims at developing and demonstrating a safe practical solution for a hybrid electric energy system for inland waterway ships using fuel cells in confined maritime applications. A significant milestone currently has been reached with the prototype design of the marine fuel cell unit successfully passing its safety testing, and the safety assessment successfully completed with DNV, a Ship classification society.

Success Criteria:

  • Address the public at large in a bid to showcase the feasibility and ecological benefits of complex hybrid powertrains with fuel cells.
  • Pave for CO2 and particle emissions in shipping industry
  • Demonstration for safety & efficiency
  • Support the development of new global regulatory frameworks for the shipping sector

The maritime industry needs to find new ways to reduce all its emissions. Not only in the long run, but starting immediately, the shipping industry needs to deploy sustainable technologies and in particular speed up the change to renewable fuel sources. By RiverCell, we have demonstrated how fuel cell technology can be a safe, clean and efficient alternative to today’s diesel gensets in marine use. We have also been able to demonstrate how hydrogen for fuel cells, in the form of methanol, can be safely and efficiently stored on ships. The HT PEM fuel cells developed and manufactured by Advent Technologies can use methanol, carrier of hydrogen, as the fuel source, and we consider methanol one of the most promising and practical future fuels for the shipping sector. At Meyer Werft, we are happy to pioneer alongside our partners with our demonstrations of fuel cell technology, both to gain a competitive edge but also to influence global standards, paving the way for this sustainable alternative.

RiverCell Project Manager, Ragnar Christenson from Meyer Werft

Copyright by MeyerWerft GmbH & Co. KG

Why RiverCell?

The aim in RiverCell is to support the usability and visualize the sustainable benefits of utilizing hybrid power generation with fuel cells in the maritime sector. The construction and trialing of the project has provided valuable insights into the suitability, practical use, and economic efficiency of hybrid powertrains. In addition to cutting emissions, the hybrid concept featuring energy storage combined with sustainable fuel cell-powered energy production has been able to demonstrate its high potential to increase the safety and efficiency of shipping. On the basis of tests and validations, the project partners also have been able to substantially build their capacity for handling new fuels with low flashpoints.

Overall, the project addresses the public at large in a bid to showcase the feasibility and ecological benefits of complex hybrid powertrains with fuel cells. Like in many other industries, regulations are based on the traditional use of diesel-powered energy sources, and a prime objective of the demonstrations is therefore to support the development of new global regulatory frameworks for the shipping sector, thus paving the way for future use of sustainable technologies.

To enable the demonstration, a ship section of a river cruise vessel has been set up at Neptun Werft in Rostock, Germany, serving as a scaled down test environment for ship operation. In this demonstrator the marine fuel cell unit prototype was integrated into a modern hybrid DC electric energy grid together with all relevant ship systems including battery storage as well as a conventional diesel genset. The fuel cell unit provides 90kW operating on methanol as a carrier of hydrogen. A new developed ship power management system controls the safe and efficient operation of the various energy sources in the hybrid system.

Learn more about the River Cell project here: https://www.e4ships.de/english/inland-shipping/rivercell2/

Fuel cell technologies to replace diesel gensets for inland and sea-going vessels will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Using methanol produced from natural gas offers reduction of local pollution (NOx, SOx emissions), and methanol produced from renewable sources can substantially contribute to reducing GHG emissions from shipping. In recent years, interest in methanol as a fuel for the shipping industry has grown significantly, but the industry is also waiting for the final regulatory frameworks to come into place before committing large-scale investments. Now, with our prototype design of the marine fuel cell unit successfully passing its safety testing, and the safety assessment successfully completed with DNV, we hope to see this data included alongside equivalent standards using the technology, so the industry understands that fuel cells are both efficient, safe, and practical in use. And on that basis, we look forward to continuing the journey with Meyer Werft and lots of new customers in the industry. At Advent, we believe that only together we can build a better future.”

Morten Hougaard Sørensen, Senior Vice President Advent Technologies.