(Fuel) Cells of Endeavor

German high-speed diesel maker and power systems supplier MTUFriedrichshafen showed its willingness to push back the technological bounds when it announced at last year's SMM Exhibition in Hamburg that it had started development work on fuel cell marine propulsion. German propensity for front-line advance in engineering is also implicit in the nomination of Siemens PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells as part of the integrated propulsion arrangements for the navy's new 212-class submarines.

Now, classification society Germanischer Lloyd has taken a lead by establishing guidelines for fuel cell propulsion and power systems. Drawing on 13 years' experience with projects relating to submarine fuel cell installations and hydrogen-handling equipment for gas tankers, GL is offering services in fuel cell system and ship plan approval and classification, safety assessment, component certification, project definition, ship design and expert evaluation. In 2000, the society certified a German inland water excursion boat incorporating fuel cell propulsion, the first nonmilitary craft to be so equipped. The concept has appeal for marine applications since it raises the prospect of power generation with improved efficiency and, above all, considerably reduced environmental pollutant release compared to conventional arrangements.

Fuel cells generate electrical power by combining hydrogen with oxygen, without open flame combustion. The hydrogen can be obtained from methanol, natural gas, petroleum or renewable resources.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 10,  Mar 2001 Pamela Conover

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First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.