International classification society Bureau Veritas has developed new guidelines covering the safe application of fuel cells on ships which could have important environmental and commercial advantages for shipowners and operators.
‘Fuel cells are electrochemical devices which convert the chemical energy of a fuel, for example hydrogen-rich gases, into Direct Current power. Until now, their application in shipping has been limited to a few pilot projects, and BV product manager Gijsbert de Jong said the main obstacle to the wider application of fuel cells in shipping is the lack of a comprehensive framework covering the technology. He explained, “By developing these new guidelines, BV is breaking the vicious circle whereby the lack of a regulatory framework limits the possibilities for building and testing the prototype applications which are essential for determining the safety and performance criteria involved. “BV’s guidelines for the safe application of fuel cells on ships take into account all relevant existing IMO conventions and guidelines, together with a wide range of international non-marine standards. They reflect BV’s extensive in-house knowledge and expertise, and could have important commercial – as well as environmental – implications for shipowners and operators.” There are several different types of fuel cell technology, using different types of fuel.