ABB is to pilot the cruise industry’s first-ever fuel cell system on a Royal Caribbean International ship, testing its ability to provide energy efficiently ahead of the line installing the technology on its upcoming Icon class vessels.
Fuel cells use an electrochemical reaction, rather than combustion, to convert fuel directly to electricity and heat, increasing operational efficiency and eliminating emissions.
“Our goal is to take the smoke out of the smokestacks,” said Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president of Maritime and Newbuilding at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility, and using fuel cell technology gives us the opportunity to deliver against all three of these pillars.”
The pilot system uses a FCvelocity pure hydrogen fuel cell engine from Ballard Power Systems, combined with ABB’s control, converter and transformer technology. Initially, the 100-kilowatt system will be trialled for its ability to deliver energy for hotel services while the ship is in port, but longer term plans will focus on evaluating the use of fuel cells for propulsion systems.
“This pilot installation demonstrates that fuel cell technology is now firmly in sight of the cruise industry,” said Juha Koskela, managing director of ABB Marine & Ports. “Fuel cells have been the next big thing for 25 years, but now they are reality. Fuel cells have significantly higher efficiency than combustion engines and allow energy to be concentrated more densely than in petroleum fuels. If you use renewables to produce the hydrogen the entire energy chain is clean and truly emission free.”