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Successful demonstration of methanol-to-fuel cell power chain

Powercell Two men push a piece of machinery in a workshop. The machinery has large exposed blue pipes
A group of companies carried out a successful validation of each of the steps in 200kW methanol fuel cell propulsion chain.

The tests were carried out on land in Sweden and involved technologies from hydrogen fuel cell provider PowerCell Group, methanol-to-hydrogen technology company e1 Marine, and RIX technologies.

The technology chain takes methanol, converts it to hydrogen and then uses the hydrogen to power a fuel cell which generates clean power. Methanol is used as the storage medium as it requires less complex storage arrangements, a conversion system then delivers a stream of low-pressure hydrogen when needed.

The tests of a 200kW system were part of validation for Maritime Partners’ M/V Hydrogen One inland pushboat, which will have a 1.4MW methanol-to-hydrogen system as its sole power generation source for propulsion.

The system is intended for use in segments including tugboats, push-boats and superyachts.

Richard Berkling, CEO at PowerCell Group, said: “The successful completion of these tests gives future ship owners, integrators and methanol suppliers the confidence they need in this powerful combination of technologies. Fuel cells are some of the most efficient ways to extract energy from fuel, and we are deploying them at a scale never seen before.

This can be seen in our project with Torghatten Nord, where we will supply 12.8 MW fuel cells on Norway’s longest ferry route – the largest maritime project to date. This string test demonstrates that whatever the fuel, the new generation of fuel cells is ready to use it.”

Robert Schluter, Managing Director at e1 Marine, said: “This rigorous test has delivered exciting results thanks to a great deal of collaboration between equipment suppliers, and the results should be a cause for optimism across the industry. This test demonstrates that a methanol-to-hydrogen power chain is ready and waiting to deliver renewable power to a range of maritime applications.”

Austin Sperry, President and Co-Founder at Maritime Partners, said: “We too are pleased by the results and system validation, allowing the M/V Hydrogen One to hit the water in 2024.”