AIDA Cruises will trial new fuel cell power

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Carnival Corporation’s Germany-based brand, AIDA Cruises, will trial the world’s first fuel cell system designed to power large passenger vessels as soon as 2021 on the ship AIDAnova.

A partnership with leaders from the maritime and engineering sectors on a research project, named Pa-X-ell2, will see the development of fuel cells that are powered by hydrogen derived from methanol, which could be produced from renewable energy sources in the future. Designed by Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the fuel cells are expected to have a longer lifecycle than those currently being developed for automobiles, with early trials on land showing a lifespan of more than 35,000 operating hours, and could supply power to cruise ships at even lower emissions levels than liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The project is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, and will include AIDA Cruises, Carnival Corporation’s Hamburg-based Carnival Maritime, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the Meyer Werft shipyard and other partners.

“With the first-time use of fuel cells on board an ocean-going cruise ship, we will reach another important milestone on our journey to emission-neutral cruising,” said Felix Eichhorn, president of AIDA Cruises. “Our goal is continue to show concrete solutions for achieving our climate targets.”

The fuel cell pilot is the latest initiative in Carnival Corporation’s green cruising strategy. Last month, AIDA Cruises signed an agreement to install a first-of-its-kind lithium-ion battery power system on its AIDAperla ship in 2020, capable of generating a total output of 10-megawatt hours to help electrify the ship’s propulsion and operation for periods of time.

In December 2018, AIDA Cruises introduced the world’s first cruise ship powered in port and at sea by LNG, which eliminates nearly all emissions, including sulphur dioxide emissions (zero emissions) and particulate matter (95-100% reduction). The use of LNG will also substantially reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide.

Carnival Corporation has an additional 10 next-generation LNG cruise ships on order, including Costa Smeralda, which will be the second of the corporation’s ships to be powered by LNG when it joins the Costa Cruises fleet.

The company is also using Advanced Air Quality Systems, often referred to as exhaust gas cleaning systems, or scrubbers. As of July 2019, Advanced Air Quality Systems have been installed on 77 of the more than 100 ships in the Carnival Corporation fleet. The systems are designed to remove almost all of sulphur oxide emissions, 75% of all particulate matter and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

AIDA Cruises’ newest ship, AIDAnova, was recently awarded the Blue Angel certification by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment for its environmentally friendly design. Since 2000, every ship built for AIDA Cruises has cold ironing or shore power capabilities, which allow the ship to connect directly into the land-based electrical grid while in port, reducing emissions from the ship’s power plant. By the end of 2020, at least 12 of AIDA’s 14 ships will be able to use shore power wherever it is available. Since 2017, AIDAsol has been using the shore power plant in Hamburg-Altona, Germany, for its regular operations.

AIDA is also exploring the use of CO2-free production of LNG from renewable sources through its Power to Gas project or the use of fuel cells in cruise shipping. By the end of 2023, 94% of all AIDA guests will travel on ships that can be fully powered by low-emission LNG or shore power where possible.

Image: AIDA Cruises

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Marisa has been writing about transport design and the passenger experience since 2013 and is also a contributor to sister titles Aircraft Interiors International and Business Jet Interiors International. She has travelled the world extensively by car, plane, train and cruise liner.

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