A unique concept to convert methanol fuel to hydrogen onboard ships to be used in a fuel cell has been proven during tests by hydrogen fuel cell supplier Powercell Group and methanol-to-hydrogen tech manufacturer e1 Marine, in partnership with RIX Industries. 

The first-of-its-kind system was tested during the validation of the Maritime Partners’ Hydrogen One inland push-boat, which uses a 1.4MW methanol-to-hydrogen system as the sole power generation source for its propulsion chain.

A diagram of the Hydrogen One methanol-to-hydrogen fuel cell system. Credit: Maritime Partners.

A string test, where all of the key powertrain components are assembled and tested as a system of the technology, was performed on land in Gothenburg, Sweden, at Powercell Group’s headquarters. 

CEO Richard Berkling said: “The successful completion of these tests gives future ship owners, integrators and methanol suppliers the confidence they need in this powerful combination of technologies. 

“Fuel cells are some of the most efficient ways to extract energy from fuel and we are deploying them at a scale never seen before.” 

Set to be the worlds-first methanol-powered towboat, the Hydrogen One is scheduled to be available for charter next year, according to Maritime Partners

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By GlobalData

Powercell Group and e1 Marine have said that the methanol-to-hydrogen fuel cell technology, which was tested for a 200kW propulsion chain, can be multiplied and scaled to a megawatt level for use in a variety of vessels, including tugboats, push-boats and superyachts. 

Robert Schulter, managing director at e1 Marine, said: “This rigorous test has delivered exciting results thanks to a great deal of collaboration between equipment suppliers, and the results should be a cause for optimism across the industry. 

“This test demonstrates that a methanol-to-hydrogen power chain is ready and waiting to deliver renewable power to a range of maritime applications.” 

The successful trial showcases the increasing popularity of methanol as an alternative fuel for the shipping industry, soon after it was announced that fuel producer OCI Global would be supplying green methanol for Maersk’s world-first methanol-powered container ship.