ZEMship to Begin Navigation of Alster River in Germany

The heart of the new ‘Alster steamer’ is an innovative twin 50kW fuel cell hybrid drive from Proton Motor.

Published: 03-Jan-2008

Proton Motor, the expert in fuel cell and hybrid systems, is supplying the innovative hybrid drive for the world’s first fuel cell-powered passenger vessel, Zemships (Zero Emission Ships). In summer 2008 the vessel will start operating in Hamburg, on the Alster and in the harbour area, carrying up to 100 passengers per trip – completely emission-free. Today the keel was laid, signalising the start of the next phase of the project funded by the European Union. Proton Motor is entering new territory in fuel cell ship’s engines and underlining its trailblazing role in cleantech and zero-emission solutions.

The heart of the new ‘Alster steamer’ is an innovative fuel cell hybrid drive from Proton Motor. The individually developed complete system PM Turnkey is powered by two PM Basic A 50 50kW fuel cell systems. The integrated battery package takes surplus energy from the fuel cells, for example when the ship is stopped at an interim port and requires less power. When the ship needs maximum power – for example during casting-off and coming aside manoeuvres – the batteries supply the energy back to the engine.

Clean and energy-saving

An intelligent energy management system controls the division of work between fuel cells and battery. This ensures maximum efficiency of operation. The fuel used is hydrogen, which is stored on board in pressurised tanks. The ship stores enough fuel so that it only needs to be refuelled about once every three days. Passengers also benefit from the innovative drive system, because the vessel produces no exhaust gases and is very quiet.

“With the integrated Proton Motor fuel cell hybrid drive the vessel isn’t only emission-free, it’s almost twice as efficient as conventional diesel ships. This project shows that our products are ready for everyday use. It offers an opportunity to open up a whole new market and extends our pioneering role in the cleantech industry,” says Anno Mertens, Zemships project manager at Proton Motor.

Extensive network

In addition to Proton Motor, a number of other partners are contributing their specific expertise to the project. Starting in summer 2008 the vessel will be operated by ATG Alster-Touristik GmbH, a subsidiary of Hamburg’s public transport company, Hamburger Hochbahn AG. ATG is also responsible for designing the hull. Linde AG is constructing a hydrogen refuelling station on a side canal of the river Alster to supply the necessary fuel. A total of nine partners are involved in the pioneering Zemships project under the leadership of the Urban Development and Environment Zemships (Zero Emission Ships) is an EU-funded project. The aim of the project is to develop and operate a fuel cell-powered Alster steamer and a hydrogen refuelling station. Projects like Zemships provide essential knowledge which can be used in future to expand the applications of fuel cell technology.

The nine project partners are: ATG Alster-Touristik GmbH, Germanischer Lloyd AG, Hamburger Hochbahn AG, University of Applied Sciences (HAW), hySOLUTIONS GmbH, Linde AG, Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH, Ústav jaderného výzkumu Rez a.s. (UJV), Urban Development and Environment Authority of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

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