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Ballard & ABB receive approval in principle for high-power fuel cell concept to power ships; 3 MW

Ballard Power Systems and ABB have received an approval in principle (AiP) from leading classification society DNV for a jointly developed fuel cell concept capable of generating 3 megawatts, or 4,000 HP, of electrical power. DNV is an international accredited registrar and classification society headquartered in Høvik, Norway.


The AiP represents an important milestone in developing new technology, as independent assessment of the concept confirms feasibility of the design and no significant obstacles exist to prevent the concept from being realized. With the AiP in place, the jointly developed solution can be initiated with confidence that it is eligible to receive final approval for application onboard a wide range of vessels.

The high-power fuel cell unit is a flexible solution that will support the energy needs of multi-megawatt scale vessels with diverse use cases. For example, a cruise vessel operating in coastal areas could either run entirely on zero-emission fuel cell power or switch to it when operating in environmentally sensitive areas or emission control zones, while a ferry with a regular schedule and frequent bunkering opportunities could operate solely on fuel cell power.

For ocean-going vessels, fuel cell power could support auxiliary needs. The concept of the solution also envisions the integration with an energy storage system.

The successful development of this system concept builds on a three-year collaboration between ABB and Ballard Power Systems.

As part of its strategy to develop alternative emission-free technologies, ABB is already well advanced in collaborative development of fuel cell systems for ships. Zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells are already powering smaller vessels over short distances and the technology is on the verge of being ready for installation on larger ships.

Shipping contributes close to three percent to global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) every year and pressure to transition the industry to more sustainable power sources has resulted in fixed reduction targets from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency responsible for regulating shipping. IMO aims to cut for GHGs from ships by at least 50 percent by 2050 from 2008 levels.


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