Wärtsilä's WFC20 fuel cell unit has been installed onboard the 'Undine', a car carrier managed by Wallenius Marine. This unique power unit is the first of its kind in the world, and will during the test period provide 20kW of auxiliary power to the vessel while producing close to zero emissions. This project is an important step towards more environmentally sound shipping and cleaner seaborne transportation.
The fuel cell unit, which has a nominal output of 20 kW, is based on planar solid oxide fuel cell technology (SOFC), and fuelled with methanol. Methanol is particularly suited for fuelling the WFC20 since it can be easily reformed to a composition suitable for the unit. Methanol can be produced from natural gas, or from renewable raw materials such as gasificated biomass. Methanol is a commonly used liquid in the oil and process industries, and is available in all major harbours.
Installation of the WFC20 fuel cell unit onboard the 'Undine' is the result of a joint project by the international METHAPU consortium. The participants in the consortium are Wärtsilä, Wallenius Marine, Lloyd's Register, Det Norske Veritas, and the University of Genoa, each of whom is globally active in the field of fuel cell system integration, sustainable shipping, classification work or environmental assessment. The project has been funded with EUR 1 million from the European Union, and is part of the European Community Framework Programme (FP6).
The principal aim of the METHAPU project has been to validate and demonstrate new technologies for global shipping that can reduce the environmental impact of vessels. In addition, a further major aim is to establish the necessary international regulations for the use of methanol onboard commercial vessels, and to allow the use of methanol as a marine fuel.
"The development of sustainable sea transportation is a long term target and one that Wallenius Marine is strongly committed to. The METHAPU project supports this vision, not only through developing sustainable fuel cell technology for commercial transportation applications, but also by providing the opportunity to utilize a new renewable marine fuel.