Carnival’s AIDA Cruises Will Pilot the World’s First Fuel Cell System for Large Passenger Vessels

by | Oct 14, 2019

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Carnival Corporation & plc, a global leisure travel company, today announced its Germany-based brand, AIDA Cruises, has partnered with leaders from the maritime and engineering sectors to pilot the world’s first fuel cell system designed to power large passenger vessels. As early as 2021, AIDA Cruises will trial this fuel technology on AIDAnova.

The research project, named “Pa-X-ell2,” is designed to develop fuel cells that are powered by hydrogen derived from methanol, with the potential to supply power to cruise ships at even lower emissions levels than liquefied natural gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel. Designed by Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the fuel cells are expected to have a longer lifecycle than those currently being developed for automobiles, with early trials on land showing a lifespan of over 35,000 operating hours.

Developed as a hybrid energy system for use in cruise ships, the fuel cells will be designed to enable benefits beyond lower emissions, including operating with lower noise and vibration. In the future,  there is the potential for the required methanol to be produced from renewable energy sources.

Funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the Pa-X-ell2 research project will include AIDA Cruises, represented by Carnival Corporation’s Hamburg-based Carnival Maritime GmbH, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the Meyer Werft shipyard and other partners.

In August, Carnival Corporation announced that its German brand AIDA Cruises has signed an agreement with Corvus Energy, a marine battery supplier. The agreement was signed August 20.

The installation and operation of lithium-ion battery storage systems onboard the AIDA Cruises fleet begins with the electrification of the first AIDA ship in 2020. The goal of the partnership is to – for the first time – allow for the practical use of electrical energy from battery storage systems onboard large cruise ships.

In addition, AIDA is also exploring the use of CO2-free production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from renewable sources through its “Power to Gas” project or the use of fuel cells in cruise shipping. By the end of 2023, 94% of all AIDA guests will travel on ships that can be fully powered by low-emission LNG or shore power where possible.

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