MSC Europa to feature world’s first LNG-powered fuel cell solution

MSC Cruises pioneers the way in environmentally friendly cruising with first of its World Class ships
MSC Europa to feature world’s first LNG-powered fuel cell solution
MSC Europa will be the first cruise hsip in the world to use SOFC technology (Image: MSC Cruises)

By Rebecca Gibson |

Chantiers de l’Atlantique is to install the world’s first-ever LNG-powered fuel cell solution onboard MSC Cruises’ new MSC Europa, which is due for delivery in May 2022.

MSC Cruises shared the news during MSC Europa’s steel-cutting ceremony, revealing that the World Class vessel would be the first of five in its fleet to be powered by LNG. MSC Europa will also be the first LNG-fuelled ship to be built in France.

Developed by French research centre CEA as part of MSC Cruises’ and Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s PACBOAT project, the new 50-kilowatt demonstrator system will incorporate Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology and use LNG to produce electricity and heat for use onboard MSC Europa. France-based contractor Entrepose Group will design and build the demonstrator, which will be approved by classification society Bureau Veritas.

SOFC technology operates at around 750 degrees Celsius, making it a more efficient option for high-powered marine applications than the lower temperature, hydrogen-based Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell solutions that are already used in the automotive sector.

Fuelled by LNG, the SOFC technology will offer up to 60% electrical efficiency and will also eliminate nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and fine particle emissions. Plus, it will cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 30% compared to conventional dual-fuel LNG engines.

“We are pleased to be able to support this highly innovative project, as it further demonstrates our commitment to contributing to the development of next-generation advanced environmental technology for the benefit of the entire industry,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. “This is a key element in our journey towards zero-emissions operations both at sea and ashore.”

The 205,700gt MSC Europa will be the first of four World Class ships to join the MSC Cruises fleet. Chantiers d l’Atlantique will deliver the remaining three vessels in 2024, 2025 and 2027. MSC Cruises’ fifth LNG-powered ship will be a yet-to-be-named Meraviglia Plus-class vessel, which will debut in 2023.

Chantiers de l’Atlantique also delivered MSC Cruises’ first Meravilgila Plus-class ship, MSC Grandiosa, on 31 October. The vessel, which features advanced environmental technologies and other guest-facing innovations, will be christened in Hamburg, Germany on 9 November during a four-day celebration.

“The delivery of MSC Grandiosa and the official start of construction of the first World-class ship are two major milestones in the history of our partnership with MSC Cruises,” said Laurent Castaing, general manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique. “At Chantiers de l’Atlantique, we are happy and proud to provide our privileged customer with state-of-the-art solutions which significantly lessen the environmental impact of the ships. MSC Cruises can thus benefit from the result of research and development programmes we have been leading for the last 10 years on energy-saving schemes and environmentally friendly technologies.”

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