Italian Shipbuilder to use Fuel Cells for Propulsion Range Extenders

November 06, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

Nuvera Fuel Cells, Inc. has announced that it will be working with Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri S.p.A., on a program to power hi-end marine vessels with advanced fuel cell technology. Nuvera has been commissioned to produce and deliver eight of its Orion™ fuel cell stacks (total power 260 kW), which will be used as range extenders for use on marine vessels. Nuvera's fuel cell auxiliary power units will provide marine vessels with air-independent propulsion (AIP). This is the same technology used in non-nuclear submarines, which allows them to operate without the need to surface for oxygen. AIP generates electricity, which in turn drives an electric motor for propulsion or for recharging the boat's batteries. The outcome of using this technology is silent operation, a major benefit in the world of luxury sea travel. The program is scheduled to begin December 2013. Nuvera is aiming to deliver all eight Orion fuel cell stack prototype units by mid-2014.

Fincantieri is one of the world's largest shipbuilding groups, which in over 200 years of maritime history has built more than 7,000 vessels. It is world leader in cruise ship construction and a reference player in other sectors, from naval vessels to cruise ferries, from mega-yachts to special high value-added vessels, ship repairs and conversions and offshore vessels. Headquartered in Trieste, the Group has a total of nearly 20,000 employees, of whom 8,400 in Italy, 21 shipyards in 3 continents and total revenues of Euro 4 billion. Through its subsidiary Isotta Fraschini Motori the company develops and builds diesel engines, for marine generators, propulsion and industrial applications.

"Fuel cells provide an attractive value proposition to the marine industry," said Giampaolo Sibilia, Director of European Operations for Nuvera Fuel Cells. "This important program with Fincantieri not only validates the benefits of Orion technology in sea-based transportation, but fulfills a specific need in the marine world - to make sea travel cleaner and quieter."

Fincantieri has coordinated the building of more than 7,000 seagoing vessels spanning its 200 year history, giving the shipbuilder an unrivaled understanding of the sea travel industry. Fincantieri selected Nuvera's Orion fuel cell stack technology for its performance and durability. Interest in hydrogen fuel cells for marine applications has grown as the marine industry looks for new ways to tackle environmental concerns and improve engine-reliability.

The usage of hydrogen fuel cells in marine vessels reduces the exhaust emissions, vibrations, noise, and costs associated with diesel-powered sea travel. Orion fuel cell stacks are Nuvera's line of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), which offer best-in-class power density in sizes ranging from 10 to 300 kW. Orion offers superior performance and durability in a compact package that can be integrated into industrial mobility, automotive, aerospace, and marine applications.