Lürssen is building its first superyacht with fuel cell technology for a pioneering and technology-driven client. The fuel cell will be flanking conventional generators and represents a major step towards an emissions-free superyacht. The new technology should make it possible to anchor emission-free for 15 days or cruise 1000 miles at a slow speed.

“My grandfather built the world’s first motorboat in 1886, my dream is to be the first to build a yacht without a combustion engine,” states Peter Lürssen, CEO of Lürssen.

To bring the project to fruition, Lürssen is setting up an Innovation Laboratory to simulate and test the integration and operation of a Marine Hybrid Fuel Cell System onboard a yacht powered by methanol. Since 2005 Lürssen has been involved in research projects aimed at using fuel cells on ships to advance sustainable shipbuilding.

Lürssen fuel cell Innovation Lab

“We don’t just want to use the latest technology on our yachts – we want to advance the status quo. And, in order to change things, we have to be active. That is why we have teamed up with several top partners,” continues Lürssen.

Since 2009, Lürssen has been a partner of a national research project called ‘Pa-X-ell’ with Besecke, Carnival Maritime, DLR, DNV, EPEA, Freudenberg and Meyer Werft. The aim of Pa-X-ell is the development and testing of a hybrid energy system with a new generation of PEM fuel cells for yachts and seagoing passenger vessels.

“The Innovation Laboratory will be ready in summer 2021 and under real-life ambient conditions and with all required auxiliary systems we consider this demonstration plant to be the final preparations to bring fuel cells onboard a yacht successfully,” comments Dr Justus Reinke, managing director of Lürssen. “It will definitely bring us a step closer to a C02 emission-free Lürssen yacht.”

Lürssen has committed to a strategic partnership with Freudenberg, one of the leading experts for maritime fuel cells and a global technology group. “With Freudenberg we have a strong partner at our side. We both have the aim to bring fuel cells onboard ships in the near future and revolutionise the yacht’s energy and propulsion system,” explains Lürssen.

“We are pleased to enter into a long-term partnership with Lürssen, the leading, innovative shipyard in the yacht sector. Together we will set standards for sustainable, emission-free mobility for yachts,” adds Claus Moehlenkamp, CEO of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies.

Lürssen’s and Freudenberg’s concept is a fuel cell driven by hydrogen which is continuously reformed from methanol. The choice of methanol rather than elemental hydrogen has been made due to its higher energy density, the simplicity of handling and worldwide availability. Perhaps most importantly, however, methanol can be stored in structural tanks in the double bottom of a yacht in contrast to pressurized or liquefied hydrogen which requires valuable space above the tank top and extensive tank structures.

“Based on our vast knowledge in Fuel Cell Systems and Hydrogen generation by reforming methanol in connection with Freudenberg’s proven industrialization expertise, we are committed to realising innovative power and propulsion solutions for the maritime industry,” explains Dr Manfred Stefener, head of the lead center fuel cell systems of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. “We are happy to have Lürssen as partner for bringing the combination of the mature polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEMFC) with an efficient conversion process of methanol into hydrogen on the first yacht worldwide.”

According to Lürssen, methanol is an important base material for the chemical industry and has been an option to be used as a clean fuel for decades. When produced from renewable sources like by CO2 capture from the atmosphere methanol can be completely climate-neutral.

“Due to the low dynamic capability of fuel cells the system layout and the combination with other energy converters and storages is the key for a successful fuel cell power system. The yacht, which is currently under construction, will be able to stay more than 15 days at anchor with the night time power supply being a zero-emission mode. And the yacht can reach more than 1000 miles slow cruising with zero-emission,” comments Lürssen.

According to Lürssen, the modular construction of the methanol fuel cell system can be adjusted to a customized yacht to keep space requirements and costs as low as possible and the efficiency of the system as high as possible. Fuel cells cause almost no noise or vibrations, need only minor maintenance and are more efficient than diesel engines. However, most importantly, emissions like nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, soot and CO2 can be avoided when green methanol is used.

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