On August 25 2017 German power company Innogy SE launched the first passenger ferry powered by a methanol fuel cell, in which renewable methanol is converted directly into electricity. The passenger ferry has been fitted with an electric power train, combining rechargeable batteries, a methanol fuel cell for range extension and electric propulsion. The ship is powered by renewable methanol (Vulcanol TM) produced by Carbon Recycling International (CRI) from CO2 and electricity in Iceland.
The MS Innogy ferry, which can carry over 100 passengers, will become a part of Lake Baldeney's White Fleet and sails on the Rhur, from Lake Baldeney near Essen to other destinations on the river.
Location of Lake Baldeney weir and hydro power plant in Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia
MS innogy is powered by seven direct methanol fuel cells from Danish manufacturer SerEnergy. According to SerEnergy the methanol fuel cell system has a capacity of 35 kW and consists of seven 5 kW modules integrated in one rack. The methanol fuel tank holds 330 litres of methanol. In addition the onboard battery system has a storage capacity of 100 kWh.
This summer, Innogy also inaugurated a CO2-to-methanol pilot plant. The containerised unit, which is open to visits by the public, has the capacity to produce 5 litres of methanol per day using renewable energy supplied by the Lake Baldeney hydro power plant and CO2 captured from ambient air.
Methanol is receiving increased attention as an alternative fuel for different modes of transport, as it is a high-density liquid energy carrier, burns cleanly and can be made both from fossil gas as well as renewable sources. Renewable methanol from CRI's pioneering facility in Iceland has been used in fleet tests of cars with internal combustion engines and fuel cells as well as in marine applications.
CRI's first-of-its-kind industrial scale CO2-to-methanol plant in Iceland, has the capacity to produce up to 15,000 litres of methanol per day (12 metric tons). CRI and its partners are currently developing commercial scale plants based on this proven design which will produce on the order of 190,000 liters (150 metric tons) of renewable methanol per day.
At the inauguration of the methanol-electric ferry, which was christened MS innogy, Peter Terium, CEO of Innogy remarked: "With MS innogy we are enabling people to experience the energy revolution directly. We obtain high-tech research from the lab and show in a very practical way what a clean energy future without oil could look like, and that includes quiet, clean propulsion systems that conserve our climate. The new MS innogy is the energy revolution that you can touch. However, it is also proof that we have the right strategy at Innogy to find an alternative to oil as quickly as possible, by producing green fuels such as methanol with renewable energy and using them to drive environmentally friendly ships, aircraft and heavy goods transport."
Innogy SE, a subsidiary of German energy company RWE was created in 2016 by splitting the renewable, network and retail businesses of RWE into a separate entity. Both companies are headquartered in Essen. Innogy's CO2-to-methanol project is a part of initiatives inspired by Essen's role as European Green Capital 2017.
Picture (courtesy of Innogy): According to the slogan painted on MS innogy’s hull, the ship "tanks up with air, water and environmental awareness." The passenger ferry which features an electric propulsion system, is fueled by renewable methanol from CRI and powered by a combination of rechargeable batteries and a direct methanol fuel cell.
See also Innogy's press release: https://news.innogy.com/en/innogy-presents-alternative-to-oil/. For additional information about the SerEnergy fuel cells: http://serenergy.com/forside-test/media/. For MS innogy's fall schedule visit: http://www.baldeneysee.com/startseite/