Royal Caribbean in pilot fuel cell installation

Fuel cells exploit an electrochemical reaction to convert fuel directly to electricity and heat without combustion Fuel cells exploit an electrochemical reaction to convert fuel directly to electricity and heat without combustion

Royal Caribbean International is to install the first fuel cell on a cruise ship in preparation for deploying the technology on its forthcoming Icon-class vessels.

The pilot installation, including control, converter and transformer technology from ABB, will generate 100kW of energy, and has been developed, marinized, assembled and tested by ABB Marine & Ports. The company selected an FCvelocity proton exchange membrane pure hydrogen fuel cell engine from Ballard Power Systems for its pilot system.

“Our goal is to take the smoke out of the smokestacks, said Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president of maritime and newbuilding, Royal Caribbean Cruises. “We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility, and using fuel cell technology gives us the opportunity to deliver against all three of these pillars.”

Fuel cells generate energy by exploiting an electrochemical reaction at the interface between the anode or cathode and the electrolyte membrane. They involve no combustion, converting fuel directly to electricity and heat.

Juha Koskela, managing director, ABB Marine & Ports, said: “Fuel cells have been the next big thing for 25 years, but now they are reality. [They] have significantly higher efficiency than combustion engines and allow energy to be concentrated more densely than in petroleum fuels. If you use renewables to produce the hydrogen the entire energy chain is clean and truly emission free.”

Royal Caribbean announced last October that Meyer Turku will build its Icon-class vessels, with capacity for around 5,000 passengers, to be delivered in 2022 and 2024. At the time it committed to starting testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship this year as well as running progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum class vessels being built in the next several years.

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