World’s First Type-Approved Methanol-Powered Fuel Cell System

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Freudenberg has achieved a significant milestone in the development of sustainable technologies in the maritime sector by receiving “Type Approval” by the international classification society RINA. The methanol-powered fuel cell system makes it possible to operate ocean-going shipping in a climate-neutral manner both efficiently and safely, reports an article published on their website.

CO2-neutral drive systems

Converting commercially operated ships on the high seas to CO2-neutral drive systems is a huge challenge. One important factor is the range requirement of the individual ship types. This must be as large as possible for cruise ships, tankers and container ships in order to be able to cover the long routes across the world’s oceans without stopping. Route flexibility and ranges of more than 5,000 nautical miles are basic requirements of the world’s maritime fleet. Purely battery-electric solutions are often out of the question for these deep-sea applications due to their high weight and space requirements.

Hydrogen as a direct energy storage medium is also ruled out for these ship types, as its low volumetric energy density would require it to be stored in huge hydrogen tanks in a cryogenic or highly compressed state. This is not a sustainable option for the maritime industry. Nevertheless, fuel cells have tremendous advantages due to their high efficiency and low maintenance requirements. Therefore, it makes sense to chemically bind regeneratively produced hydrogen to achieve a significantly higher energy density. This will make fuel cells economically and practically viable for ocean-going shipping. The fuel cell system can of course be flexibly combined with Freudenberg e-Power Systems’ maritime battery systems to create particularly efficient hybrid solutions.

In this context, the use of climate-neutral methanol represents a turning point on the road to maritime sustainability and the achievement of IMO emission reduction targets. Methanol is a simple alcohol that is liquid under normal ambient conditions and has around three times the volumetric energy density of liquefied hydrogen. As an important raw material for the chemical industry, climate-neutral methanol is characterized by proven manufacturing processes as well as good availability.

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