The fuel cells, which have been specially developed for maritime applications, are expected to completely replace the conventional generators on the ship at times during the first joint ship installation. This will enable the yacht to anchor for 15 days or cruise 1,000 miles with zero emissions – an important added value for the ship owner. Freudenberg’s methanol-powered maritime fuel cell system with integrated fuel reforming, which received “Approval in Principle” from the classification society DNV GL at the end of 2020, is used for this purpose: Hydrogen is generated directly in the system via steam reforming, which then reacts with oxygen from the air in the fuel cell, generating the electrical energy required for both propulsion and the on-board network. Ship owners benefit from higher efficiency than with the internal combustion engine, and thus lower fuel consumption and reduced maintenance. The ships travel with virtually no noise or vibration, which is particularly important for the regions served by yachts.
In addition to the Truck & Bus segment, equipping ships with fuel cell systems is one of Freudenberg’s strategic goals, explains Dr. Manfred Stefener, Vice President Fuel Cell Systems at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies: “Our goal is to decarbonize the entire maritime fleet. We will cover the complete energy needs of ships, including the main propulsion system, thanks to the integration of fuel cell-battery solutions. With this hybridization strategy, the required installations in the double-digit megawatt range per ship can be realized sustainably and cost-efficiently. Freudenberg supplies these solutions from a single source.”
Right sizing of fuel cells and batteries and fuel flexibility are key success factors for Freudenberg: the company is one of the few with the technological expertise to manufacture both fuel cells and high-performance batteries for heavy-duty applications from its own production with maximum added value. “This enables us to directly influence the costs, quality and technical performance of the systems,” said Dr. Stefener.
In the future, fuel cells in continuous operation will cover the base load in shipping. The power for peak performance, for example during maneuvering, will be provided by batteries. “This coordinated interaction increases the service life of all system components and also optimizes overall system efficiency,” says Dr. Stefener, explaining the right-sizing approach. “It also allows the total installed power to be designed smaller, which offers significant space and cost advantages.”