Innovative Non-Combustion Fuel Cell Tech to Power One of the Greenest Cruise Ships

With the maritime industry just at the beginning of its decarbonization journey, there’s plenty of room for innovative technologies and solutions for sustainability. One of them, the solid oxide fuel cell technology developed by Bloom Energy, is about to turn cruise liners into emissions-free vessels.
MSC World Europa will be the first cruise ship equipped with solid oxide fuel cell technology 9 photos
Photo: MSC Group
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Over 100 cruise ships have been commissioned across the cruise line industry, to be completed by 2027. In total, they will need more than four gigawatts of power. The answer to how will that power be generated can transform the entire industry. Think of the significant impact that 100 future cruise ships could have on the environment, if they were emissions-free. While no single solution can “magically” transform so many ships, an important step has been already taken. The world’s first cruise ship powered by solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) is getting ready for sea trials.

MSC World Europa will be the greenest ship ever operated by the MSC Group, featuring several eco-friendly technologies, including a new-generation waste water treatment system. Although other companies in the maritime industry have started operating vessels fueled by LNG (liquefied natural gas, one of the cleanest fuels available), the MSC World Europa will take things even further by integrating a unique SOFC system.

What’s revolutionary about this technology is that it converts fuel (natural gas, biogas, hydrogen) into electricity without combustion, which leads to zero emissions. The Bloom Energy server is comprised of fuel cells that are combined into stacks, which are then placed into individual modules. A ship can be fitted with several of these modules, leading to 60% emission cuts, compared to diesel-electric systems.

When air passes over the fuel cell’s cathode, the oxygen ions react with the fuel, resulting in electricity. Together with LNG, this non-combustion electrochemical process claims to be up to 30% more efficient than combustion-based propulsion.

The future MSC World Europa will be equipped with 150 kW of Bloom fuel cells, with the added benefits of zero noise pollution and unpleasant vibrations. The ship is currently being built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique (CdA) shipyard, with sea trials scheduled for the second half of 2022.

The MSC Group plans to eventually decarbonize its entire fleet, and Bloom’s innovative SOFC solution is seen as one of the best options for future green ships of different types.

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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