GE and Nedstack enter into a partnership to develop hydrogen fuel cell power systems for cruise vessels
GE’s Power Conversion business and Nedstack, a leading fuel cell manufacturer, are collaborating on developing hydrogen fuel cell systems for powering zero-emission cruise vessels.
This partnership brings together GE’s recognized expertise in cruise electrical power and propulsion solutions plus system integration capability, with Nedstack’s extensive experience in megawatt-scale hydrogen fuel cell technology. The result will be highly efficient fuel cell solutions that enable a zero-emission cruise industry.
The cruise industry shares a joint responsibility to eliminate the possible negative impacts it might have on port communities, the health of passengers and staff, and on the environment as a whole. Responsible zero-emission shipping is not only environmentally needed but will greatly contribute to the quality of the cruise experience itself.
Shipowners are already under pressure to comply with the reduced sulfur limit regulations coming into force next year. Both global International Maritime Organization (IMO) and regional regulations require marine vessels to reduce emissions or eliminate them altogether.
GE and Nedstack envisage using this technology on passenger ships, replacing traditional diesel engines with fuel cells, and heavy fuel oil (HFO) with hydrogen.
So far, Nedstack and GE have designed the concept for a two megawatt hydrogen fuel cell power plant on an expedition vessel. The review result has been highly positive and plausible. The ultimate goal is a truly zero-emission system that will enable the world’s first sustainable, clean cruise ships.
GE’s variable speed electrical drive system is a crucial part of the system that optimizes control and efficiency by directing and managing the electricity produced by the hydrogen fuel cells.
Frequently switching fuel cells on and off reduces their life expectancy – and this is a significant issue for vessels. To give some perspective, while a car’s fuel cell is expected to operate for 7,000 hours, for a ship it needs to go over 20,000 hours. Machine longevity is essential. To overcome this, GE’s variable drive, fuel cell system architecture and dedicated PMS are engineered to limit the switch on-and-off frequency of the fuel cells when sailing or in port. Indeed, optimizing the system and extending the fuel cells’ lifespan is key to coping with the five-year dry dock intervals that cruise ships demand.
Nedstack and GE have designed a concept for a multi-megawatt hydrogen power plant for passenger vessels. The built-in redundancy and its scalability are promising.
Nedstack is a Dutch fuel cell manufacturer, producing Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells and fuel cell solutions for mission critical and long-life applications such as PEM Power Plants, CHP systems and heavy-duty mobile applications. Founded in 1999 as a spin-off of Akzo Nobel, Nedstack has been the first to scale PEM Fuel cell technology to the MWe and multi-MWe size level and is committed to pursue widespread deployment to enable the full potential of the hydrogen economy.
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