FCS Alsterwasser brings some credibility to fuel cells in maritime industry
The world’s first hydrogen-powered ship is proving how reliable it can be. The ship, called FCS Alsterwasser, was developed by Germany’s Alster-Touristik GmbH (ATG) in 2009. The entire ship is powered by hydrogen fuel cells that generate approximately 100 kilowatts of electricity. The FCS Alsterwasser can hold as many as 100 passengers and has been operating on inner-city waterways in Hamburg, Germany. According to ATG, the ship has operates for more than 1,900 hours, proving its reliability and the performance of its hydrogen fuel cells.
Hydrogen beginning to gain foothold in shipping industry
Hydrogen fuel cells are gaining ground as a viable energy source for transportation vehicles, including ships. The shipping industry is one of the largest producers of harmful emissions as a major consumer of fossil-fuels. Both of these aspects of the industry are beginning to exact a heavy toll on ship owners and operators who are being confronted by new emissions regulations from the world’s governments and the rising prices of oil. In an attempt to find a solution to the costs associated with regulations and fossil-fuels, the industry has begun turning to hydrogen fuel cells, which produce no greenhouse gases and generate large amounts of electrical power.
Majority of ship’s energy needs met through hydrogen fuel cells
The FCS Alsterwasser is equipped with two hydrogen fuel cell systems that provide power for the entire ship. No less than 12 hydrogen fuel tanks are housed on the ship to ensure that the fuel cells receive a constant flow of the fuel they need to generate electricity. If the fuel cells should fail for any reason, the ship is also equipped with a lead-gel battery that will pick up the slack. A sophisticated energy management system determines whether the ship requires the majority of its energy from the fuels cells or the battery. More often than not, the ship receives the majority of its electrical power from its onboard hydrogen fuel cells.
Success of FCS Alsterwasser could bring more attention to fuel cells
The FCS Alsterwasser has shown that hydrogen fuel cells could be a viable alternative energy system for ships. The vessel has not encountered any significant problems during its operational lifetime, a fact that is often being attributed to the durability and high performance of its fuel cells. The ship may help add further momentum to the growing popularity of hydrogen fuel cells in the maritime world.