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Successful testing of methanol-fueled HT-PEM fuel cell system paves the way for scale-up at the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center

Alfa Laval is the driving force in a marine fuel cell development project exploring the potential of high-temperature proton exchange membrane (HT-PEM) fuel cells using methanol as fuel as a source of marine auxiliary power.

Funded by Danish EUDP (Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program), the project is a joint effort between fuel cell maker Blue World Technologies, Alfa Laval and vessel owners DFDS, Maersk Drilling and Hafnia. (Earlier post.)

In the first step, a 10 kW (2 x 5 kW) installation has been running at the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center since July. Based on positive test results, the project is on track for a 200 kW installation. Ultimately, it will provide the marine industry with a scalable energy supply that does not involve combustion.


Alfa Laval Test & Training Center.

We are pleased with the progress in the HT-PEM fuel cell system project. Although this first installation is small, it allows us to test the basic setup and the function of the supporting equipment. The data compiled so far is very promising, which suggests that we can move into the next stage as planned.

—Alfa Laval’s Jeroen van Riel, Business Development Manager, Marine Energy Systems

The fuel cell system in development, which will provide clean operation with no particulate emissions, uses carbon-neutral renewable methanol. It comprises modules of HT-PEM fuel cell stacks that can be combined in racks of 200 kW, creating a standardized, scalable system for many megawatts of power. Alfa Laval is responsible for the overall system infrastructure, as well as the distribution systems needed to support the fuel cells.


The modular fuel cell system includes a methanol reformer for fuel conversion, DC/DC for power conversion and fuel cell stack for power production.

In the current phase of testing, two modules containing one fuel cell stack each are being run with the distribution systems. The operational data will then be used to fine-tune the 200 kW module and rack setup.

The project will lead to an integrated, safe and marine-certified product for application on tomorrow’s green ships. Within the near future, it will offer a realistic alternative to combustion-based auxiliary power on board.

—Jeroen van Riel



Exciting stuff!

This kind of output can also provide power for pleasure boats etc, in multiple units if needs be, replacing dirty, carbon intensive, unreliable diesel engines.

On sailing blogs many posts are on perpetual fiddling with the diesel engines, and how unpleasant it is when wind conditions mean that they have to run on them.

It would be good to see in places like the Solent, where I used to live, hundreds of boats out on the water without noise and fumes!

Here is SeaBubble, one new design:


HT PEM fuel cells also work well in aircraft, overcoming many of the limitations of LT PEM, as in Hypoint's product.

They use hydrogen, but presumably in some applications the greater compactness of running on methanol and ease of use would be preferable?

And of course this fuel cell could also run on hydrogen.

One heck of a lot of work to produce a variant for aircraft, of course, but the basic tech is there from the work for shipping.

So they can potentially give Hypoint some competition.

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