17 January 2011

Greener Boats, Cleaner Coasts

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Diesel engines used on ships are among the dirtiest in the world. Now a new type of propulsion system could make marine travel much greener. European coastlines will profit from this research by CORINNA LUECKE (Jan. 11)

Italian and German researchers of the European Research Project MC-WAP have replaced the diesel engines with a propulsion system based on molten carbonate fuel cells. The MC WAP project has developed a molten carbon fuel cell which uses hydrogen obtained from a system that converts diesel oil into a hydrogen-rich gas, and air coming from the compressor of a microturbine. The reaction produces electricity and heat, without combustion. Their challenge: to adapt the fuel cell technology for marine applications.

Marco Schembri of the Italian Ship Research Center CETENA has coordinated the research project and is convinced that fuel cells will be the future of marine combustion engines. “Fuel cell technology will improve passenger comfort and have many environmental advantages as well: High energy efficiency, very low emission of polluting gases, low noise and localized production.”

Clearly, marine propulsion systems need to be improved and this technology could make a significant contribution to sustainable energy generation.

(10 January 2010)

Corinna Luecke

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