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Fuel cell manufacturer Nedstack is working with project partners to develop a hydrogen-electric drivetrain for marine applications – if all goes to plan, the inland vessel Antonie van Lenten will run on hydrogen within three years.

Nedstack is a partner in the Dutch FELMAR-consortium, which includes MARIN, Damen Shipyards Group, Future Proof Shipping, Marine Service Noord and Holland Ship Electric.

The inland vessel project also falls within the scope of the WEVA project, which is is supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, and the European Union.

Project partners are the NPRC, Lenten Shipping, engine supplier Koedood Marine Group and Nedstack. Nouryon supplies the green hydrogen.

‘With a hydrogen vessel, a huge breakthrough in the energy transition can be achieved for the maritime world,’ said Kees de Vries, project leader of the WEVA project.

‘It is now important to get such a ship into service and demonstrate its feasibility. This project could be the breakthrough towards the use of hydrogen in inland and short sea shipping.’

The 135-metre-long Antonie van Lenten will transport salt from the Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel) salt factory in Delfzijl to the Botlek in Rotterdam.

According to De Vries: ‘With the Antonie, we want to show that it is technically and economically feasible to equip an inland vessel with a hydrogen-electric drivetrain.

‘At the same time, we want to demonstrate a new method for bunkering and storing hydrogen.’

 A second and third ship are already under development, said De Vries.

Nedstack has been working on making PEM fuel cells suitable for marine applications in collaboration with Koedood. A complete operational test setup has been developed at MARIN in Wageningen as part of the FELMAR initiative.

Nedstack's CCO Roel van de Pas, FELMAR project coordinator, noted that Nedstack's fuel cells are designed for 'mission-critical high power' - that is, high electrical power in continuous operation.

‘These are precisely the basic principles that make the cells suitable for use in inland vessels, especially in the larger ships that have many operating hours, he said.
The FELMAR test configuration includes a 40 kW fuel cell with parameters such as electrical voltage and hydrogen pressure of the order of magnitude relevant for marine application.

The next round of tests will soon take place in MARIN's new zero-emission lab.

Nedstack is now preparing systems of 200 and 500 kW for marine applications and the company has recently entered into strategic partnerships with players such as Koedood, General Electric and Damen Schelde Marine services.

 Van de Pas also sees opportunities for hydrogen vessels in sectors such as coastal management, dredging, port companies and ferry services.

The development of a hydrogen fuel supply infrastructure will require major investment. As such, Nedstack said that an alternative bunkering option is being explored, using hydrogen tanks the size of a standard container.

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