EMSA has released a study, conducted by DNV GL, to examine the use of fuel cells in shipping for clean power sustainability and alternative fuels. Different specific developments on Fuel Cells are available today, with research and pilot projects under evaluation that have revealed strong potential for further scaled up implementation.
The EMSA Study on the use of Fuel Cells in Shipping has been the result of this Agency’s initiative, under the agreement of the Commission and in support of EU Member States, an important instrument, developed in close partnership with DNV-GL.
Notwithstanding the close dependency of Fuel Cell technology and the development of hydrogen fuel solutions, different solutions are today in place making use of LNG, methanol and other low flashpoint fuels. EMSA participates, in support of the Commission, in the 2nd phase development of the IGF Code where provisions for Fuel Cells are to be included as a new part of the text.
The safety assessment showed that some specific items in relation to the use of fuel cell power systems on board ships shall be further studied:
Influence of different fuel behavior
- Hazardous Areas, safety and security zones should be aligned according to the behavior and dispersion characteristics of methanol (behavior is different to natural gas). Toxicity of methanol is to be considered;
- Consideration shall be given to diffusion effects and embrittlement of hydrogen through materials;
- A detailed assessment of hydrogen rich gas release scenarios with respect to (self-) ignition and dispersion shall be done;
- Hazardous area definition and vent mast outlet distances shall be analyzed due to the behavior and dispersion characteristics of hydrogen (low and high pressure release)
- Hazardous Areas, safety and security zones shall be established and aligned according to the behavior, dispersion and ignition characteristics / mechanism of Hydrogen (different to natural gas)
- Consideration shall be given to the different properties of hydrogen in comparison to LNG in respect to ignition, dispersion mechanism and lower temperature
Storage of hydrogen as fuel
- The distances between hydrogen tank(s) and ship the ship structure shall be clarified to reach the same safety level as a conventional fuelled vessel / LNG fuelled vessel
- The storage of hydrogen tanks below accommodation shall be evaluated
- The location of hydrogen tanks should be evaluated with respect to collision probability
- Consideration should be given to possibly ventilate or inert the cold box in case of leakage into space not normally to be entered (due to the behavior of hydrogen)
- Consideration should be given to possibly ventilate or inert secondary barrier space in case of leakage into space not normally to be entered (due to the behavior of hydrogen)
- Redundancy requirements for buffer system should be investigated
The EMSA Study includes a technology and regulatory review, identifying gaps to be further explored, the selection of the most promising Fuel Cell technologies for shipping and, finally, a generic Safety Assessment where the selected technologies are evaluated according to Risk & Safety aspects in generic ship design applications. The Study is composed by two documents: the Report and the Result Tables.