Major FCH JU funded project will install the world’s first ammonia-powered fuel cell on a vessel

A maritime innovation project looking to install the world’s first ammonia-powered fuel cell on a vessel secured a €10m European Union funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).

The ShipFC project will see the offshore vessel Viking Energy have installed a large 2MW ammonia fuel cell retrofitted. The system will allow the vessel to sail solely on clean fuel for up to 3,000 hours annually. The goal is also to ensure that a large fuel cell can deliver total electric power to shipboards systems safely and effectively and demonstrate that long-range zero-emission voyages with high power on larger ships are possible.

This is the first time an ammonia-powered fuel cell will be installed on a vessel. A significant part of the project will be the scale up of a 100-kilowatt fuel cell to 2 megawatts. The ammonia fuel cell system will be installed in Viking Energy in late 2023.

Another part of the ShipFC project will perform studies on three other vessel types, namely offshore construction vessels and two cargo vessel types, to demostrate the ability to transfer this technology to other segments of the shipping industry.

Bart Biebuyck, the director of the FCH JU, said: “Fair wind to the ShipFC project as it trials the route of maritime decarbonisation with green ammonia as a fuel and Solid Oxide Fuel Cell as a powertrain. It thus complements the portfolio of maritime projects supported by FCH2 JU: MARANDA and FLAGSHIPS, which use hydrogen as a fuel and Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells”.

Ship FC is run by a consortium of 14 European companies and institutions and coordinated by the Norvegian cluster organisation NCE Maritime CleanTech.

NCE Maritime Cleantech cluster chief executive Hege Økland says that this project represents another step in the right direction as shipping seeks ways to utilise new technologies and fuels to decarbonise. “Shipping has agreed to the goal of decarbonising by the end of the century and to have achieved a global 50% cut by 2050 based on 2008 levels. As we move onto the right trajectory to achieve these targets, we see interest in new fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen increasing. Ammonia is an abundant energy source and can easily be made from renewable resources making it one of the fuels that will likely meet part of shipping’s future energy demand.”

Download the press release here.