New MSC cruise vessel to feature SOFC fuel cell

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises, Laurent Castaing, Director General of Chantiers de l'Atlantique, and executives from Entrepose and CEA Tech at the signing of the fuel cell MoU on 31 October. Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises, Laurent Castaing, Director General of Chantiers de l'Atlantique, and executives from Entrepose and CEA Tech at the signing of the fuel cell MoU on 31 October.

Chantiers de l’Atlantique held the steel cutting ceremony for MSC Cruises’ new MSC Europa cruise vessel on 31 October. The first of four LNG-fuelled World Class vessels will be the first LNG-fuelled cruise vessel to be constructed in France and will also be the first cruise vessel to be fitted with solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology.

The 205,000 gt vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2022. The ceremony also saw the signature of a memorandum of understanding between Chantiers de l’Atlantique and MSC around the installation of a 50kW LNG-fuelled SOFC fuel cell aboard the vessel.

Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, stated: “We are pleased to be able to support this highly innovative project, as it further demonstrates our commitment to contributing to the development of next-generation advanced environmental technology for the benefit of the entire industry. This is a key element in our journey towards zero-emissions operations both at sea and ashore.

The project, PACBOAT, will be led by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, which is also acting as system integrator. The project is funded by the French government's Investments for the Future Program (PIA) and supported by ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency.

The project also involves classification society Bureau Veritas, EPC supplier Entrepose, and fuel cell supplier CEA. CEA’s patented SOFC solution uses a solid-ceramic YSZ electrolyte, a nickel-YSZ cermet electrode and a perovskite anode. CEA has previously announced plans to investigate the performance of the SOFC using gases at pressures of up to 30 bar.

CEA has extensive experience supplying high temperature SOFC solutions for stationary applications, but this will represent the first marine installation for the research institute’s SOFC technology.

The LNG-fuelled SOFC technology is expected to yield around 60% electrical efficiency at the operating temperature of around 750°C. The excess thermal energy is compatible with standard waste heat recovery systems.

One of the disadvantages of SOFC installations is the extended start up time compared with Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) solutions, but operating costs are likely to be lower given the base level hotel load on cruiseships of the size of MSC’s World Class vessels. 

The shipyard estimates the SOFC solution will reduce GHG emissions by about 30% compared with a conventional dual fuel LNG genset, while eliminating nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and PM emissions.

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