Packboat Project signature - MSC, BV, Chantiers de l'atlantique

Chantiers de l’Atlantique leads the way in fuel cell technology

Apr. 27 2020 - 5 min

Bureau Veritas is providing regulatory expertise and design assessment for the installation of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology onboard MSC’s low-emission cruise ships, leading the way toward a greener cruise market.

With the public increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their travel choices, the cruise industry is under growing pressure to boost its green credentials by reducing emissions. Cruise ships consume large amounts of fuel, and the heavy fuel oil they traditionally use results in high emission levels of sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), as well as particulate matter. To meet the expectations of potential passengers and other stakeholders, the industry is turning towards technological innovation to help cut its emissions.

Charting new territory

In November 2019, MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique unveiled PACBOAT, their groundbreaking new research and development project. The project focuses on the integration of a new fuel cell technology demonstrator on board the first of four MSC Cruise World Class vessels, due for delivery in 2022. The demonstrator, which has an output power of 50KW, is to produce electricity and heat using LNG, the fuel of choice on MSC Cruises’ World Class ships.

The integration of an SOFC on a cruise ship is a world first. This cutting-edge energy conversion unit, which operates at temperatures of around 750°C, offers electrical efficiency of up to 60%. Moreover, since the heat produced can be consumed onboard, its total efficiency can be much higher, resulting in a direct reduction of energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This SOFC solution fueled by LNG can reduce GHG emissions by about 30% compared with a conventional dual-fuel LNG engine, with no emissions of NOx, SOx or fine particles. It also has the advantage of being compatible with a variety of fuels, including the low-carbon fuels of the future.

Developing PACBOAT

Led by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, PACBOAT uses cutting-edge SOFC technology developed and patented by the CEA. The project is funded by the French government’s Investments for the Future Program (PIA) and supported by ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency.

Additionally, PACBOAT is part of the Ecorizon® R&D program launched by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in 2008, which is dedicated to improving ship’s energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. Entrepose Group, a France-based international contractor that designs, builds and operates production, transport and storage infrastructure for energy markets, will work on the design and construction of the demonstrator.

Ensuring safe and reliable progress

Bureau Veritas is supporting this important step forward by appraising the design of the demonstrator. Our extensive experience with LNG, alongside our early involvement with fuel cell technology, puts us in a perfect position to provide the safety certification that will ensure the groundbreaking technology is safe and reliable.

The project is part of an industry-wide move towards lowering emissions, and will make it possible to exceed future regulatory requirements for emissions for new ships by 2030 and 2050. It is also an important technological breakthrough in the maritime industry’s push for zero-emission ships that will meet the European Commission’s goal of making the European Union climate-neutral by 2050.