Berlin, 19 February 2020 – Under what technical and economic conditions and in which market segments can electricity-based fuels be reasonably implemented in inland waterway shipping? This is the subject of the new “Electricity-based fuels for fuel cells in inland waterway shipping” study, which was commissioned by NOW GmbH and conducted by Ludwig Bölkow Systemtechnik GmbH, DNV GL SE and Ingenieurbüro für Schiffstechnik.

The study examines alternative fuels exclusively in fuel cell drive systems and compares them with conventional diesel-based drive systems with combustion engines.

The analyses include the entire process chain, from the production of the fuel, its transport, distribution and storage to the bunkering process and storage, as well as the conversion of energy on board. In order to be able to analyse the technical and economic influences of adapting various fuel and fuel cell technologies for inland waterway vessels, four frequently occurring reference vessel types were selected: cargo ship, barge, excursion boat and cabin vessel.

The technical analysis reveals that the use of fuel cells in inland waterway shipping is in principle possible for each of the types of vessels studied. There is no universal solution here: a large number of possible combinations of electricity-based fuels and different types of fuel cells with different levels of technological maturity can be considered.

The choice of suitable combinations depends on many factors: If the ship is to be converted or newly built, what the time frame for implementing the project is, what are the power and energy requirements, what is the operational profile of the vessel in use or what bunker frequencies are possible, along with the question of the availability of electricity-based fuels along the route?

Due to this multitude of influencing factors, a detailed analysis of the respective application is necessary for a well-founded decision for a specific fuel cell solution. The study is intended to provide some fundamental points of reference in this respect.

The use of renewable fuels in fuel cell drives can avoid or significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollutants as well as unwanted noise and vibrations. This drive technology is therefore of particular interest for the use of ships in metropolitan areas. Taking this aspect into account, suitable regions for the market ramp-up and the development of necessary fuel infrastructures were also briefly examined

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