Luxury Shipyard to Launch an Experimental Fuel Cell Ship, Operating as a Floating Lab

Zeus is an experimental ship powered by hydrogen fuel cells 8 photos
Photo: Fincantieri via
Fincantieri ShipFincantieri ShipFincantieri ShipFincantieri ShipFincantieri ShipZEUSFuel Cell System
A European luxury shipyard is closer to introducing a unique experimental hybrid vessel, meant to be used as a floating laboratory for hydrogen fuel cells and other green innovations. The goal is to eventually integrate clean energy solutions onboard luxury cruise ships, totally transforming the cruising industry for the better.
At the end of 2020, Fincantieri was officially launching the construction of Zeus (Zero Emission Ultimate Ship), a fuel cell-powered vessel that would be used for researching the fuel cells’ performance in natural settings. As the largest European shipbuilding group, known for delivering famous superyachts and cruise ships, Fincantieri is one of the most important players in the industry that is focusing on clean energy alternatives.

Zeus is set to be 82-foot-long (25 meters), with a 170-ton weight, fitted with two diesel generators and two electric motors. Recently, the Bavarian Proton Motor Fuel Cell that its innovative Hyship 72 fuel cell system will be powering the hybrid Zeus ship. The hydrogen-powered propulsion solution consists of the 142 kW Proton Motor fuel cells, a battery system, and a metal hydride hydrogen storage system.

Initially, the experimental ship was set to be equipped with a 130 kW fuel cell system, powered by 11 lbs (50 kg) of hydrogen, stored in eight cylinders, plus a battery system that would guarantee eight hours of operation, at a speed of 7.5 knots (8.6 mph/13.8 kph). At 142 kW, the Hyship 72 fuel cell system will take Zeus even further.

In addition to studying fuel cell behavior, Zeus will also be instrumental in researching an innovative way of generating electricity and heat for cruise ships. This would help reduce noise and vibrations, compared to conventional power generating systems, and even increase the energy conversion output, due to the fact that these new systems have no moving mechanical parts.

Zeus will use its diesel generator when batteries are being recharged, in addition to a zero-emission mode, when the electric power is supplied by the fuel cells, and a zero-noise mode, using only its lithium batteries.

The Zeus project was developed in collaboration with several universities and institutions in Italy and is partially funded by the government.
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Editor's note: Gallery showing various vessels built by Fincantieri

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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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