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Wärtsilä-run research consortium given 1.0 million euro EU grant to develop new renewable fuels technology for marine vessels


4 December 2006

The European Union has chosen a research consortium coordinated by Wärtsilä to receive a EUR 1.0 million grant to develop the use of methanol-consuming fuel cells to provide electrical power to marine vessels. The project is entitled “Validation of a Renewable Methanol Based Auxiliary Power System for Commercial Vessels” (METHAPU). The entire project costs EUR 1.9 million.

The main purpose of the project is to develop and validate renewable-fuel-based technology on board a cargo vessel involved in international trade. Wärtsilä’s task in the project is to study the suitability of a methanol-based fuel cell system on board the cargo vessel. A further important aim of the project is to lay the technical groundwork to support the introduction of the regulations necessary to allowing the use of methanol as a marine fuel. The specific components of the technology to be validated are methanol fuel bunkering, distribution, storage system and a solid oxide fuel cell system that consumes methanol. The consortium is made up of world-class players in the field of fuel cell system integration, sustainable shipping, classification work and environmental assessment.

The consortium’s research will deal with the SOFC unit of 250 kW -class and the focus is on marine application issues, as well as the unit’s safety and reliability aspects. For marine validation purposes a smaller 20 kW unit will be installed on board a Wallenius Marine carcarrier. The 20 kW unit will be factory-tested, laboratory-tested and approved before installation. The installation, likewise, will be approved before the unit and its carrying vessel begin to sail on world trade routes. A lifecycle assessment and an operational safety assessment will be made. The results of the validation run and the tests will contribute to the second and final part of the research – the marine-compatibility of the 250 kW unit, its safety and reliability.

The project will take two and a half years, one year of which is dedicated to the application’s validation. The regulations and technical requirements for using methanol as a marine fuel will pave the way for the commercial use of methanol-consuming fuel cells on board commercial vessels. This research project also serves as a springboard for future research related to sustainable society; specifically, new greener marine power sources and a methanol-based economy.

“We are very happy to have been selected for the EU grant. The construction and operation of this research unit running on renewable methanol will open up attractive opportunities for using sustainable fuels for fuel-cell-based distributed generation and auxiliary power units in large ships. In particular, this is an interesting option for reducing ship emissions when harbouring,” says Erkko Fontell, General Manager, Fuel Cells, at Wärtsilä.

“Operation of the unit will also provide us with very important experience related to both the system’s design and its performance parameters such as electrical efficiency and stack durability,” he adds.

The consortium consists of world-class organizations including Wärtsilä Corporation, Lloyd’s Register, Wallenius Marine, the University of Genoa and Det Norske Veritas AS.

Wärtsilä Corporation:
Wärtsilä enhances the business of its customers by providing them with complete lifecycle power solutions. When creating better and environmentally compatible technologies, Wärtsilä focuses on the marine and energy markets with products and solutions as well as services. Through innovative products and services, Wärtsilä sets out to be the most valued business partner of all its customers. This is achieved by the dedication of more than 13,000 professionals manning 130 Wärtsilä locations in close to 70 countries around the world.

For more information, please visit our website or contact Mr. Tho Phan, Fuel Cells, R&D,

Lloyd’s Register:
The classification society, Lloyd’s Register is a risk management and safety assurance organisation originally founded in London in 1760 to examine merchant ships and ’classify’ them according to their condition. Through its constitution, Lloyd’s Register is directed ’to secure, for the benefit of the community, high technical standards of design, manufacture, construction, maintenance, operation, and performance, for the purpose of enhancing the safety of life and property both at sea and on land’. Lloyd’s Register works closely with international and national regulatory bodies, in developing Rules and Regulations which set standards of quality and reliability.

For more information, please visit our website or contact Mr Ed Fort, Research and Development Department,

Wallenius Marine:
Wallenius Marine are specialists in ship management and technical R&D. Wallenius Marine is responsible for the sister company Wallenius Line’s 40 wholly or partly owned car carrying vessels. These vessels transport approximately two million cars around the world annually. The Wallenius-owned vessels have always been considered pioneers in the field of onboard marine technology. Wallenius Marine’s priority is therefore to maintain a state-of-the-art fleet with the highest quality, safety and environmental standards as well as keeping a safe and stimulating work environment for the crews. Some thirty-five employees at the Wallenius head office in Stockholm and the 650 people working at sea are all dedicated to fulfilling this assignment.

For more information, please visit our website, or contact Ms Lena Ekbom, Environmental Department,

University of Genoa:
Since June 2004, the Thermochemical Power Group (TPG, based at UNIGE and DIMSET, ‘Dipartimento di Macchine, Sistemi Energetici e Trasporti’ of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of UNIGE) has been the University Technology Centre of Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd. The Faculty of Engineering was established in 1870 and introduced programmes in Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering in 1930. The main fields of research are: gas-turbine-based cycle optimization (re-heated, intercooled, regenerated, steam injected, etc.), and thermoeconomic analysis, including detailed costing of equipment and internalization of emissions costs. There is a large interest in fuel cell technology (MCFC, SOFC), integration of conventional power conversion systems (gas turbine plants), in CO2 sequestration systems including semi-closed cycle analysis and physical/chemical sequestration technique, and in CHP plant optimum design and management.

For more information, please visit, or contact Adriana Del Borghi, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Chimica e di Processo “G. B. Bonino” - Università di Genova,

Det Norske Veritas AS:
DNV is an independent foundation with the objective of safeguarding life, property and the environment, and a leading international provider of services for managing risk.

DNV operates in multiple industries internationally. In four industries it has a strong market presence and a large customer base: Maritime, Oil and Gas, the Process industry and Transportation (Rail and Automotive). DNV, one of the world’s leading classification societies, helps the maritime industry manage risk in all phases of the ship’s life, through ship classification, statutory certification, fuel testing and a range of technical, business risk, financial and competency related services.

Its prime assets are the creativity, knowledge and expertise of its employees. Most of the 6100 employees are highly qualified engineers and technical personnel, working out of 300 offices in 100 countries.

Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, DNV’s global network is linked by efficient information technology enabling the creation of value for customers in a coherent and consistent manner worldwide.

For more information, please visit or contact Mr. Eirik Nyhus, DNV Research and Innovation,


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