Research on fuel cells continues

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2021 First practical test on board AIDAnova planned as part of the Pa-X-ell2 project

The Pa-X-ell2 research project is entering the next phase with a consortium of eight project partners. The aim of the companies involved is to investigate and develop a decentralised energy network and a hybrid energy system with a new generation of fuel cells for use on ocean-going passenger ships. The first project meeting took place at MEYER WERFT.

Since October 2019 the project consortium of Pa-X-ell2 includes MEYER WERFT, Lürssen Werft, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, DNV GL, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), AIDA Cruises represented by Carnival Maritime GmbH, Besecke automation and EPEA GmbH - Part of Drees & Sommer.

The current project phase runs until the end of 2021 under the leadership of MEYER WERFT. In addition to the development of the fuel cells, the entire energy system and its integration on board will also be investigated. The development of energy networks and energy management as well as ecological and economic analyses are also part of the project.

As early as 2014, MEYER WERFT commissioned a fuel cell demonstrator on shore as part of its predecessor project Pa-X-ell. Since 2016, MEYER WERFT has carried out a first test of fuel cells on board the Baltic Sea ferry Mariella. In the new project phase, the new fuel cells will be tested on the cruise ship AIDAnova. AIDAnova is the first cruise ship in the world to operate completely with low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG) and was delivered to AIDA Cruises by MEYER WERFT at the end of 2018.

The fuel cell offers the possibility of even lower emission energy generation on board than is currently possible with LNG. It operates with low emissions, low noise and low vibration. The fuel cell is powered by hydrogen, which is reformed from methanol. This can be generated in the long term with regenerative energies and thus the fuel cell can be operated emission-neutral. Methanol as an energy carrier also offers good properties with regard to the storage volume.

After intensive tests on land, the fuel cells manufactured by Freudenberg are to be tested for the first time in real operation on board AIDAnova from 2021 onwards. For this reason, the fuel cells from Freudenberg Sealing Technologies will also be designed for significantly higher durability. Initial tests have shown that a service life of more than 35,000 operating hours can be achieved.

The Pa-X-ell2 research project is part of the e4ships cluster, as is the RiverCell2 project, which is carried out to research fuel cells on board river cruise ships. The research projects belong to the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology and are funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.