Wärtsilä-Run Research Consortium Given $1.3m Grant

Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Wärtsilä-run research consortium given $1.3m (1m euro) EU grant to develop new renewable fuels technology for marine vessels The European Union has chosen a research consortium coordinated by Wärtsilä to receive a the grant to develop the use of methanol-consuming fuel cells to provide electrical power to marine vessels. The project is entitled "Validation of a Renewable Methanol Based Auxiliary Power System for Commercial Vessels" (METHAPU). The entire project costs EUR 1.9 million. The main purpose of the project is to develop and validate renewable- fuel-based technology on board a cargo vessel involved in international trade. Wärtsilä's task in the project is to study the suitability of a methanol-based fuel cell system on board the cargo vessel. A further important aim of the project is to lay the technical groundwork to support the introduction of the regulations necessary to allowing the use of methanol as a marine fuel. The specific components of the technology to be validated are methanol fuel bunkering, distribution, storage system and a solid oxide fuel cell system that consumes methanol. The consortium is made up of world-class players in the field of fuel cell system integration, sustainable shipping, classification work and environmental assessment.

The consortium's research will deal with the SOFC unit of 250 kW -class and the focus is on marine application issues, as well as the unit's safety and reliability aspects. For marine validation purposes a smaller 20 kW unit will be installed on board a Wallenius Marine carcarrier. The 20 kW unit will be factory-tested, laboratory-tested and approved before installation. The installation, likewise, will be approved before the unit and its carrying vessel begin to sail on world trade routes. A lifecycle assessment and an operational safety assessment will be made. The results of the validation run and the tests will contribute to the second and final part of the research - the marine-compatibility of the 250 kW unit, its safety and reliability.

The project will take two and a half years, one year of which is dedicated to the application's validation. The regulations and technical requirements for using methanol as a marine fuel will pave the way for the commercial use of methanol-consuming fuel cells on board commercial vessels. This research project also serves as a springboard for future research related to sustainable society; specifically, new greener marine power sources and a methanol-based economy. The consortium consists of world-class organizations including Wärtsilä Corporation, Lloyd's Register, Wallenius Marine, the University of Genoa and Det Norske Veritas AS.

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