Sanlorenzo's Almax Yacht Uses a Green Methanol Fuel Cell System To Power the Hotel Load

Sanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called Almax 6 photos
Photo: Sanlorenzo Yacht
Sanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called AlmaxSanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called AlmaxSanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called AlmaxSanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called AlmaxSanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called Almax
The decarbonization revolution is well underway not only in the automotive industry but also in the maritime sector. In an effort to align the luxury yachting industry with global climate change efforts, shipbuilders have started working with alternative fuels, blending environmental responsibility with innovation. 
Of all the biofuels suitable for superyachts, methanol seems to be the most likely solution to help the yachting industry meet its low- and ultimately zero-emission goals. A significant milestone on the road to a greener maritime future was achieved this past weekend when Italian yacht builder Sanlorenzo launched the first unit of its revolutionary 50Steel series at its La Spezia shipyard.

We have seen various yachting projects that have opted for methanol as their future-proof fuel of choice, but Sanlorenzo's 50Steel is the first superyacht with a green methanol fuel cell system to start cruising the high seas, which positions the new vessel as a pioneer in eco-conscious yachting.

Christened Almax, the 164-foot (50-meter) yacht, is the first in the world to use methanol fuel cells to produce emissions-free power for the onboard services. The vessel will be equipped with the Modular Reformer-Fuel Cell System, developed in partnership with Siemens Energy, which will transform green methanol into hydrogen and then into electricity, which means there is no need to store hydrogen on board. The innovative system can produce 100kW of energy with zero emissions to power the yacht's hotel load, all without starting the propulsion engines or diesel generators. The green energy will be used for the vessel's AC and lighting, as well as for recharging the batteries. This means the yacht will be able to sit at anchor completely emission-free. 

Sanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called Almax
Photo: Sanlorenzo
Prominent names in the yachting industry believe fuel cells will play an increasingly important role in shipbuilding in the years to come due to their superior efficiency and low particle emissions. But it normally takes eight to ten times more space to store compressed liquid hydrogen on board a watercraft than the energy equivalent in diesel fuel, so it's really a good thing Sanlorenzo's innovative system eliminates the need for huge hydrogen tanks.

"With the launch of the 50Steel, Sanlorenzo celebrates a fundamental milestone in its history in the spirit of innovation and sustainability," said Massino Perotti, chairman and CEO of the Sanlorenzo Group, and owner of the inaugural 50Steel. "The new line of superyachts embodies the pioneering spirit and passion for challenges that have always guided us in the design and construction of our fleet."

But the groundbreaking green methanol fuel cell system is not the only innovative feature introduced by Almax. Another highlight of the new yacht is the Hidden Engine Room (HER), a solution that maximizes living space on board. By redesigning the engine room layout, the designers at Sanlorenzo have managed to create more square footage on the lower deck, while keeping the yacht under the 500 GT mark. The extra space has been used to create a generous Ocean Lounge beach club, which spans no less than 150 square meters (over 1,600 square feet) and houses a pool and three fold-out sea terraces.

Sanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called Almax
Photo: Sanlorenzo
Initially announced in February 2022, 50Steel has been developed as part of Sanlorenzo's path to decarbonization, known as the "Road to 2030" initiative, which involves the launch of the yard's first carbon-neutral yacht before the end of this decade. Almax boasts an exterior design penned by Zuccon International Project and interiors by Piero Lissoni.

Almax's sleek yet imposing exterior is defined by clean lines and the classic Sanlorenzo elegance. The yacht spans five decks with a staggered configuration to the fore, which gives it an agile, sporty look. The unique layout includes spacious areas with minimal partitions both on deck and inside the yacht.

The patented HER system, which confines the engine room to the lower deck, also allowed the designers to increase the ceiling height in some areas up to 3.35 meters (11 feet). This impressive height creates an incredible sensation of space and openness inside the yacht and allows for sprawling social areas. The main deck, for instance, features a spacious salon that leads to an elegant dining room on the middle deck. Another salon can be found on the upper deck.

Sanlorenzo launches first 50Steel yacht, called Almax
Photo: Sanlorenzo
In terms of accommodation, Almax comes with a full-beam owner's master cabin on the middle deck, complete with an ensuite, office, and dressing room, as well as four luxurious guest cabins on the lower deck. A gym and a spa are also part of the design.

As for the propulsion system, all the units in the 50Steel series will be powered by MAN engines that will allow for a top speed of 16 knots (18.4 mph), a cruising speed of 12.5 knots (14.4 mph), and a range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km).

As it turns out, four 50Steel hulls, each costing around €30 million ($32,5 million), have already been spoken for. The Almax superyacht will be delivered to its owner in July 2024. 
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About the author: Ancuta Iosub
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After spending a few years as a copy editor, Ancuta decided to put down the eraser and pick up the writer's pencil. Her favorites subjects are unusual car designs, travel trailers and everything related to the great outdoors.
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