Ballard Plans Marine Fuel Cell Center Of Excellence

Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S said it is establishing a Marine Center of Excellence dedicated to fuel cell marine applications at the company’s engineering, manufacturing and service facility in Hobro, Denmark.

The center will design and manufacture heavy-duty fuel cell modules to address zero-emission powertrain requirements for the marine industry. A new motive fuel cell system manufacturing hall is planned to be constructed and operational at the Hobro location by year-end 2019, with an expected annual production capacity of more than 15 MM of fuel cell modules. Fuel cell module development work at the center will be based on Ballard’s new FCgen-LCS fuel cell stack and next-generation heavy duty power module, which are planned for commercial launch later this year, and will be designed to meet European marine certification requirements, the company said.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Ballard Power Systems, said regulations to restrict diesel emissions are being introduced at the local and regional levels in various parts of the world, and this is generating interest in zero-emission fuel cell technology. In 2018, the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced a strategy to reduce GHG emissions from ships, including a 50% reduction in GHGs by 2050 as compared to the 2008 level, and complete elimination of greenhouse gases as soon as possible in this century. The IMO has estimated that 1.135 billion tonnes of CO2 were emitted by ships in 2008, representing 3.5% of the global total that year.

Against this backdrop, Ballard said its zero-emission fuel cell modules offer a compelling value proposition for marine vessels, in both stand-alone and hybrid deployments with batteries. Ballard fuel cell modules deliver design flexibility, including modular components and scalable power (from 100 kW to over 1MW) to support vessel propulsion, auxiliary power and/or system redundancy, extended range, proportionate to the volume of energy-rich compressed liquid hydrogen fuel stored on board a vessel (which can also be rapidly replenished), rather than creating a weight challenge through the addition of heavy batteries and positive economics, underpinned by the compatibility of fuel cell DC power with battery hybrid electric architectures.

“We are now witnessing early indicators of long-term disruption in the marine industry, with dirty diesel engines being substituted by zero-emission fuel cell systems,” said Jesper Themsen, president and CEO of Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S. “Our Marine CoE – together with our extensive experience and knowledge in Heavy Duty Motive applications such as buses, trucks and trains – will position Ballard at the epicenter of this critical transition in the marine market.”

In addition to work on MW-scale marine power solutions with ABB, Ballard said it is actively involved in a number of sub-MW marine projects, including development of HySeas III, the world’s first sea-going renewables-powered car and passenger ferry, which will operate in the Orkney Archipelago off the coast of Scotland; participation in the H2PORTS project to facilitate a rapid transition at Europe’s ports from fossil fuels to low-carbon, zero-emission alternatives based on hydrogen and fuel cells, initially at the Port of Valencia in Spain; and a Flagships project to demonstrate fuel cell commercial readiness by powering a ferry in Norway and a river barge in France.

Ballard said its FCgen-LCS fuel cell stack offers several benefits when compared to the current generation liquid-cooled fuel cell stack that it will replace, including significantly lower life-cycle cost, durability, higher power density, freeze-start capability and high tolerance to operating conditions.

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