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AIDAnova
As early as 2021, AIDA Cruises will trial this innovative fuel technology on AIDAnova, pictured here

AIDA to trial fuel cells powered by hydrogen derived from methanol

AIDA Cruises has partnered with leaders from the maritime and engineering sectors to pilot the world’s first fuel cell system designed to power large passenger vessels.

As early as 2021, AIDA Cruises will trial this innovative fuel technology on AIDAnova, becoming the first brand to trial fuel cells for propulsion on a large cruise ship.

The research project, Pa-X-ell2, is designed to develop fuel cells that are powered by hydrogen derived from methanol, with the potential to supply power to cruise ships at even lower emissions levels than LNG, currently the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel.

Lifecyle of more than 35,000 operating hours

Designed by Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the fuel cells are expected to have a longer lifecycle than those currently being developed for automobiles, with early trials on land showing a lifespan of over 35,000 operating hours.

Developed as a hybrid energy system for use in cruise ships, the fuel cells will be designed to enable benefits beyond significantly lower emissions, including operating with lower noise and vibration. There is future potential for the required methanol to be produced from renewable energy sources.

Funded by Germany's Transport Ministry

Funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the Pa-X-ell2 research project will include AIDA Cruises, represented by Carnival Corp. & plc’s Hamburg-based Carnival Maritime, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, Meyer Werft and other partners.

On a journey to 'emission-neutral' cruising

Using fuel cells will be ‘another important milestone on our journey to emission-neutral cruising,’ AIDA Cruises President Felix Eichhorn said.

Last month, AIDA signed an agreement to install lithium-ion battery power system on AIDAperla in 2020, which will be the world’s largest battery storage system on a passenger ship, capable of generating a total output of 10 megawatt hours to help electrify the ship’s propulsion and operation for periods of time.

This year, Hurtigruten introduced a hybrid-powered expedition cruise ship, Roald Amundsen, that uses battery power for peak shaving and to share short stints of 20 minutes to 30 minutes. A sister ship, Fridtjof Nansen, will follow next year.