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MultiSchIBZ consortium developing SOFC APU for marine use

A consortium led by thyssenkrupp Marine Systems GmbH is developing a solid-oxide fuel cell system as an alternative power generation on ships. This will improve the efficiency of the plants and prevent emissions even when fossil fuels are used—both in berth operations in ports and inland waterways and on the high seas. A further advantage is the almost noiseless operation which makes them fit more easily into the environment.

“MultiSchIBZ” will develop two prototypes of fuel cell systems suitable for practical use to technical maturity. The system is based on SOFC fuel cells which can be operated with low-sulfur diesel fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an energy source.


Schematic of the integration of the fuel cell system on a yacht.

A fuel gas generator converts the fossil fuel into a hydrogen-rich gas for operating the fuel cells. Compared with conventional propulsion systems using marine diesel as fuel, this is expected to reduce emissions by 99% for NOx and particulate matter and by more than 25% for carbon dioxide.

For the development of the technical components, the results and plants from two predecessor projects are being used: SchIBZ and SchIBZ2. The aim is to optimize the existing components, which have already been tested in the laboratory, to further develop them for operation with LNG and to scale them up for the construction and operation of pilot plants with higher outputs.

Major technical challenges include the implementation on real ships and the derivation of uniform technical standards for all system variants and performance classes. In addition, more powerful systems must be prepared for planning in the future.

OWI Oel-Wärme-Institut gGmbH and TEC4FUELS GmbH are also involved as project partners in the system development. The OWI contributes its know-how in the conversion of liquid energy sources and is responsible for the further development of the fuel gas generator, hot gas recirculation and the thermal start-up concept of the overall system.

TEC4FUELS is a service provider in the fields of testing and engineering responsible for the development of an online sensor system and a forced test method for the respective operating fluids as well as material investigations that take into account the interactions with the fuel-carrying components.

After the development phase, a demonstration phase is planned in the project, in which several fuel cell APUs will be tested on ships in real operation.

The goals of the project are:

  • Improving the efficiency of fuel cell systems to more than 50%;

  • Proof of unrestricted functionality of the entire system in continuous use;

  • Preparation for pilot applications by customers;

  • Building a production chain for commercial systems; and

  • Creation and alignment of legal bases for the application of technology in ships.

The testing of the fuel cell system in this project is initially aimed at passenger ships (yachts, ferries, cruise ships) and a later performance class of 100 - 400 kW.

Project partners are:

  • thyssenkrupp Marine Systems GmbH, Hamburg (Project Management)
  • Oel-Wärme-Institut gGmbH, Herzogenrath
  • Center for Fuel Cell Technology ZBT GmbH, Duisburg
  • sunfire GmbH, Dresden
  • Hülsenbusch Apparatebau GmbH & Co. KG, Kempen
  • Rosswag GmbH, Pfinztal
  • TEC4FUELS GmbH, Herzogenrath
  • DNV GL SE, Hamburg
  • Leibniz University, Institute of Thermodynamics, Hannover
  • Leibniz University, Institute for Electrical Energy Systems, Hannover

This project is divided into two phases:

  • Phase I, Design and Development, 06.2018 - 05.2020
  • Phase II, demonstration phase, 06.2020 - 12.2022



A great advance if they can pull it off, as the need for additional infrastructure is so limited, and shipping is a major source of pollutants.


A fuel gas generator converts the fossil fuel into a hydrogen-rich gas for operating the fuel cells...

Good move, the diesel might be the low sulfur variety.



'The system is based on SOFC fuel cells which can be operated with low-sulfur diesel fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an energy source.'


Yes I know that,
it is important to remove excess sulfur before the SOFC.

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