The partnership will combine GE’s electrical power and propulsion solutions with Nedstack’s megawatt-scale hydrogen fuel cell technology, aiming towards zero-emissions.
Reduced sulfur limit regulations coming into force next year will create compliance issues for shipowners. Both global International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and regional regulations require marine vessels to reduce emissions or eliminate them altogether.
‘Existing clean power solutions are focused on reducing emissions. Eliminating emissions altogether demands a paradigm shift,’ Arnoud van de Bree, CEO of Nedstack says.
‘Hence why GE and Nedstack have been working on the “marinisation” of fuel cell technology to create a total zero-emission alternative.’
Ed Torres, CEO of Marine and O&G, GE’s Power Conversion business, added, ‘Given the marine transport and shipping sector’s changing regulatory landscape, this could not be more timely.’
Maritime fuel cell applications
So far, Nedstack and GE have designed the concept for a 2mw hydrogen fuel cell power plant on an expedition vessel. The review result ‘has been highly positive and plausible,’ noted GE.
The two companies are aiming for this technology to be used on passenger ships, potentially replacing traditional diesel engines with fuel cells, and heavy fuel oil (HFO) with hydrogen.
Hybrid electric drive system
GE’s variable speed electrical drive system directly manages 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. GE’s variable drive, fuel cell system and PMS are engineered to limit the switch on-and-off frequency of the fuel cells when sailing or in port. Extending the fuel cells’ lifespan is key to coping with the five-year dry dock intervals necessary to cruise ships.
‘Ships are increasingly being required to shut down their engines in port. We’ve seen this in California, for example, and China has introduced an emission control area in the Yangtse delta. However, the trend is shifting from emissions reduction to total elimination,’ said Azeez Mohammed, President and CEO, GE’s Power Conversion business.