Bureau Veritas (BV) product manager Gijsbert de Jong says the main obstacle to the wider application of fuel cells in shipping is the lack of a comprehensive framework covering the technology, according to a report on Maritime Global Net.
‘By developing these new guidelines, BV is breaking the vicious circle whereby the lack of a regulatory framework limits the possibilities for building and testing the prototype applications which are essential for determining the safety and performance criteria involved,’ explains de Jong.
He continues: ‘BV’s guidelines for the safe application of fuel cells on ships take into account all relevant existing International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions and guidelines, together with a wide range of international non-marine standards.’
The several different fuel cell technologies use different types of fuel. BV says it has found that the use of hydrogen, for example, offers a number of significant advantages, not least the fact that there is an unlimited resource in atomic form and that it delivers a higher chemical energy per unit mass than does natural gas, and is non-toxic, non-polluting and non-poisonous.
The company is participating in the ‘Green Tug’ project. This initiative, led by the Offshore Ship Designers Group in The Netherlands, aims to produce a new design for a near-zero-emission, hydrogen-powered tug. As well as achieving a significant reduction in exhaust emissions, the fuel cell technology used in the vessel’s design also helps to increase propulsion efficiency by roughly 70% compared with a conventional diesel-direct drive installation.
The guidelines currently have preliminary status, and are subject to internal and external review. After taking into account all relevant feedback, they will be published as Bureau Veritas Guidance Note NI547, Guidelines for fuel cell systems on board commercial ships. The guidelines will be primarily aimed at new ships, but also can be applied on a case-by-case basis where fuel cell systems are being retrofitted on existing ships.