ABB partnership to bring container ship hydrogen powertrains on a “megawatt scale”

ABB partnership to bring container ship hydrogen powertrains on a “megawatt scale”

April 21, 2020 1 By Tami Hood
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The firm is partnering with Hydrogène de France to construct the massive zero-emission systems.

ABB, a Swiss/Swedish manufacturing and automation giant, is partnering with Hydrogène de France (HDF) to develop a huge container ship hydrogen fuel powertrain.

The plan is to come up with hydrogen fuel cell systems powerful enough for large transportation vessels.

H2 has been taking an important place in the spotlight this year. Though a solid segment of the personal auto industry has been wary of it due to the challenges it presents in storage, transportation and even production efficiency, it presents a powerful opportunity in shipping. H2 offers approximately 10 times a lithium battery’s energy density. Moreover, the refuelling process is significantly faster than plugging in to recharge a battery.

For this reason, container ship hydrogen fuel opportunities are very promising. Moreover, as these massive marine vessels are tremendous polluters, a transition in this direction could substantially reduce emissions.

Container ship hydrogen fuel would substantially change the largely diesel-burning industry.

The shipping industry is widely unregulated when it comes to pollution due to its necessity, its international nature and the fact that reasonable renewable energy sources are few and far between. That said, while diesel power has allowed it to remain affordable to transport goods, it is responsible for an estimated 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a New Atlas report, one container ship can emit as much pollution as 50 million cars throughout its lifetime. By providing a zero-emission source of power, that difference could be a substantial one if done properly.

For long-range electric to become a viable option, several generations of development will be required. Therefore, at the moment, H2 presents the most realistic and practical option. This is particularly true for shorter-range operations.

The new agreement between ABB and HDF will therefore focus on the development of a “megawatt-scale” container ship hydrogen fuel powertrain. It will use the largescale manufacturing capacity at HDF for its manufacturing and assembly. Ballard Power Systems Container Ship hydrogen - Image of container shipwill take part in the design with the participation of that firm’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell specialists.