Fuel cell technology to be tested on SKYE research vessel

Fuel cell technology to be tested on SKYE research vessel

Fuel cell technology will be tested on a Finnish Environment Institute (SKYE) research vessel operating in the Baltic Sea this summer.

The experiment will use a fuel cell system fuelled by excess hydrogen from chemical industry group Kemira’s Äetsä plant in a pilot project coordinated by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

“[SKYE’s research vessel] Aranda is powered by two diesel engines, and their vibration and emissions cause interference in measurements and sample collection carried out aboard the research vessel,” said Valtteri Pulkkinen from VTT.

“The fuel cell system enables the diesel engines to be shut down during short-term measurements. At the same time, local emissions of carbon dioxide and particulates can be eliminated.”

“The vessel’s system will be installed in two separate containers: one contains the hydrogen storage and the other the fuel cell system. They will be installed during the summer 2020.”

“At the moment, testing of a similar system is ongoing at Kemira’s Äetsä plant.”

“Kemira’s Äetsä chlorate plant produces hydrogen as a by-product,” explained Operations Manager Maija Annila and Electric Operations Manager Petri Kopi from Kemira.

“We use some of the hydrogen produced as a raw material, while some of it is delivered to Woikoski in cylinders. Still, some 25% of the hydrogen remains unused.”

“This fuel cell solution is a good and environmentally friendly option for using excess hydrogen.”

“It is a rewarding project, as it promotes Baltic Sea protection, energy efficiency and zero emissions, as well as cooperation between different organisations.”

Maritime transport is a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is doing its part to fulfil the Paris Agreement and is committed to at least halving the carbon dioxide emissions of maritime transport by 2050 compared with the 2008 level.

This decision calls for significant actions from shipping companies, as large cargo vessels use low-quality fuel oil, which is difficult to replace with renewable fuels.

Modern vessels are needed, and fast. Luckily, the development of alternative technologies, like fuel cell technology, is making good progress.

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