The ShipFC project to convert offshore vessel to run on ammonia-powered fuel cell
A maritime innovation project looking to install the world’s first ammonia-powered fuel cell on a vessel has been awarded €10m funding from the European Union.
The ShipFC project is being run by a consortium of 14 European companies and institutions, co-ordinated by the Norwegian cluster organisation NCE Maritime CleanTech, and has been awarded backing from the EU’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 under its Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).
The project will see an offshore vessel, Viking Energy, which is owned and operated by Eidesvik and on contract to energy major Equinor, have a large 2MW ammonia fuel cell retrofitted, allowing it to sail solely on the clean fuel for up to 3,000 hours annually. As such the project will demonstrate that long-range zero-emission voyages with high power on larger ships is possible.
The goal is also to ensure that a large fuel cell can deliver total electric power to shipboards systems safely and effectively. This is the first time an ammonia-powered fuel-cell will be installed on a vessel. A significant part of the project will be the scale up of a 100-kilowatt fuel cell to 2 megawatts. The fuel cell is tested on land in a parallel project and development and construction will be undertaken by Prototech. Testing will be executed at the Sustainable Energy Norwegian Catapult Centre. The ship-side ammonia system will be supplied by Wärtsilä.
The ammonia fuel cell system will be installed in Viking Energy in late 2023.
The project represents the latest stage in the long running collaboration between Equinor, Eidesvik and Wärtsilä. The three companies successfully collaborated on a number of environmental and cleantech projects over the years. Viking Energy was the first LNG powered ocean-going vessel in 2003, and Eidesvik and Wärtsilä also collaborated on the 2009-built Viking Lady, another LNG-fuelled vessel that was seen as a milestone in the transition of shipping with its installation of fuel cells and marine batteries.
Norwegian crop nutrition company Yara has been contracted to supply the green ammonia which will be produced by electrolysis and delivered to Viking Energy containerised to enable easy and safe refuelling.
Another part of the ShipFC project will perform studies on three other vessel types, namely offshore construction vessels and two cargo vessel types, to illustrate the ability to transfer this technology to other segments of the shipping industry.
About the consortium members
Alongside NCE Maritime Cleantech (NO), Eidesvik Shipping (NO), Equinor (NO), Prototech (NO) and Yara (NO) in the European consortium are Wärtsilä Norway (NO) which will work on the fuel systems, any changes to the ship’s design and stability and the energy management of the vessel. Fraunhofer IMM(GE), an institute of the leading German organisation for applied research, has expertise with fuel cell process development and will assist Prototech in the development and construction of the ammonia fuel cell system. A specialised SME Persee (FR) is an expert in energy management controls and data.
The University of Strathclyde (UK) and National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritis (GR) are consortium members assessing any safety criteria.
The three test cases that will look at the ability to transfer the technology to other vessels has led to North Sea Shipping (NO), Capital-Executive Ship Management (GR) and Star Bulk Ship Management (CY) also being part of the consortium. One of the five Catapult centres in Norway, Sustainable Energy Norwegian Catapult Centre, has responsibility for testing autonomous sustainable energy systems as well as scale-up of the ammonia fuel cell.