After a ship-naming ceremony on Friday, the MS innogy is now ready to take passengers for a green tour on the beautiful Lake Baldeneysee. The MS innogy, the first vessel in Germany to be powered by methanol fuel cells, is a project by innogy, a leading distributor of green energy in Germany and the City of Essen. The methanol fuel cell system powering the vessel is developed and manufactured by the Danish fuel cell manufacture SerEnergy.
It was a green ambitious to show the tremendous potential of methanol as the fuel of the future, that started the cooperation between innogy and SerEnergy. About a year ago, the companies started to develop a plan to turn a diesel-powered vessel into an electric vessel powered by environmentally friendly methanol fuel cells. On Friday, after working five months on carrying out the plan, the MS innogy was given its name under a ship-naming ceremony in Essen, Germany, after which the vessel went out for the first official tour on the waters of Lake Baldeneysee.
“We are very proud to see the vessel touring the lake in Essen, it is an important milestone in showing the potential of methanol as the green fuel of the future. For us, it has been a very interesting project to be part of, and since the project is a first of its kind we have had to think out of the box to create an ideal energy system matching the energy demands of the vessel”, says Mads Friis Jensen, Chief Commercial Officer at SerEnergy.
A modular solution
The SerEnergy methanol fuel cell system is a modular solution making it easy to adjust according to the individual energy requirements of the customer. This is a unique feature within the fuel cell industry where other systems would require more development work and adjustments to each project. This also makes it possible for the customers to increase their system by expanding the rack with one module or more. The MS innogy fuel cell system is a 35 kW system consisting of seven 5 kW modules integrated in one rack. The energy system is a hybrid constellation consisting of a fuel cell system and a battery pack, where the fuel cells work as a range extender allowing the vessel to sail for an entire day without fuelling. Using waste heat from the fuel cell to drive the methanol reformation process leads to a high electrical efficiency between 40-50%.
Not only has the methanol fuel cell system zero harmful emissions and is CO2-neutral, it is also low on noise and vibrations, allowing the passengers to enjoy the tour without the characteristic engine noise and vibrations you normally experience on a vessel.
“In the field of methanol fuel cell technology innogy already gained experience with the leading supplier ‘SerEnergy’ before the project started. We have chosen SerEnergy as a strong partner in our greenfuel project because they convinced us with their innovative and successful reference projects”, says Jens Kanacher, Head of Energy Systems, Market and Storage and Project Manager of “greenfuel”.
The system for MS innogy is based on knowledge and experience that SerEnergy has gained being part of the Pa-X-ell test programme, where a methanol fuel cell system is placed on a cruise ship where it produces electricity to the ship’s internal power grid.
Environmentally friendly methanol
The MS innogy is a part of innogy’s “greenfuel” project where they demonstrate the entire value chain of environmentally friendly methanol, from a green production of methanol using CO2 from the surrounding air, green electricity and water, to the use of methanol as fuel in the excursion vessel and in cars. The scene of the methanol value chain demonstration project is the City of Essen – this year’s “Green Capital of Europe” and the demonstration project goes hand in hand with the ambitious transition the city is undergoing in reinventing itself as a “Green City”.
Operator: Weisse Flotte Baldeney-GmbH
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For the past three years, the Danish fuel cell company SerEnergy, in collaboration with Aalborg University, has been working on creating an alternative energy source for the telco industry, which today is relying on polluting and high maintenance-requiring diesel generators. The development has paid off and as part of the project, SerEnergy has set up fuel cell systems for the telco industry in six countries worldwide.
The result of the development project is a new generation fuel cell solution that has a quick startup time, a minimum power consumption in standby and during startup and reuses its own waste heat which ensures high energy efficiency. The product “H3 Outdoor Cabinet” has been developed as one completed system including the fuel cell, battery pack, fuel tank and control system assembled in an outdoor cabinet making it cheaper to transport and easier for customers to set up in a limited space – it being on top of a snow-covered mountain in Norway or on the top of an apartment complex in the Philippine capital, Manila.
Green and economical
The H3 Outdoor Cabinet is an attractive, renewable energy system that ensures a significant reduction of CO2-emissions, zero harmful emissions and a minimum maintenance requirement. The energy system is also easy to integrate directly into existing telco solutions in areas with unstable or no fixed energy supply.
The system is inspired and tested by customers under different climatic conditions, from Finland and Norway with permanent negative degrees to India and the Philippines with a tropical climate.
Continues the positive development
During the period where SerEnergy has been working on the development project, the company has grown and, to comply with the high commercial demand for fuel cells, they have expanded the production and now have the world’s largest production capacity of methanol fuel cell systems with an annual production capacity of up to 25 MW (5000 units). At the same time, they have set up sales and service offices in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines in order to be close to the markets and to service the roll-out of the technology.
In order for the company to continue the positive growth and create more exports and more green jobs, the technological innovation work must continue.
“We are very pleased with the commercial success the product has received, and with the demand we are experiencing, there has been a great need for a good green solution like the one we are now offering. That being said, we have now penetrated the market, but we still have hard work ahead of us. To target the scalable market, we have to continue the technology development”, says Mads Friis Jensen, Chief Commercial Officer at SerEnergy.
Methanol as fuel
Besides providing savings on both fuel cost and amount of energy, methanol is also a fuel that is easy to store and transport which makes it attractive in many parts of the world. Methanol can be produced as a green, CO2-neutral fuel either by gasification of biomass or by using excess wind energy in combination with CO2 from a combustion, thereby reducing emissions to the atmosphere.
EUDP supports the green change and export potential
EUDP – Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program – has supported the development of the new fuel cell solution with approx. DKK 10 million. The purpose of EUDP is to provide support for the development of new energy technology that creates growth and jobs, increases the security of supply and contributes to making Denmark independent of fossil energy by 2050.
As partner in the development project, Aalborg University, Department of Energy Engineering, has followed the project closely, both in the development process at SerEnergy, during execution of climatic tests and later in the validation of the project results.
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With the aim to develop a cost efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle, the Danish methanol fuel cell manufacturer SerEnergy is now launching a commercial reformed methanol fuel cell vehicle with a driving range up to 800 km on a tank of methanol.
The engineers and mechanics at SerEnergy’s mobility development centre, located in Aalborg, Denmark, has developed a reformed methanol fuel cell (RMFC) vehicle based on the Nissan e-NV200 electric car platform, a car that is being sold in large numbers worldwide. The car is equipped with an urban range extender which enables up to 800 km before the car needs refuelling, and is therefore ideal for an urban driving pattern covering many kilometres, such as taxies, delivery van and other commercial vehicles.
It has been three years since SerEnergy started the development of a fuel cell solution for the mobility segment, with a first-generation RMFC-vehicle based on a Fiat 500 platform. Now, more than a year’s development work has resulted in the launch of the second-generation RMFC-system with great potential on a broad variety of applications such as commercial vehicles and busses.
“This is an important step for us in realizing our vision – to wipe the Internal Combustion Engine from the face of the earth. The market is searching for green alternatives to fossil fuels, so we see great potential in this type of vehicle both nationally and internationally and we are thrilled to see the first cars on the road”, says Mads Friis Jensen, Chief Commercial Officer at SerEnergy.
Positive environmental and economic impact
Besides being environmentally friendly, with zero harmful emissions and an exhaust that is as clean as the air surrounding us, the system also benefits on the overall driving economy with a significant reduction in fuel price as well as being more than double as energy efficient compared to petrol and diesel. As participants in a methanol infrastructure project, SerEnergy has taken part in the development of a filling station for methanol with a refuelling process that is not much different than what we know from traditional fuelling with petrol or diesel.
A perfect hybrid
The vehicles are developed as a hybrid which combines a reformed methanol fuel cell system with a battery pack. The combination of batteries and methanol is an ideal combination where methanol fuels the vehicle on the range and batteries kicks in during start-up and acceleration peaks. When the two technologies are supplementing each other, both technologies can perform as they do best thereby reducing the size of the battery pack and the capacity of the fuel cell significantly, resulting in a vehicle that is both cost and energy efficient.
The second-generation cars hit the road later this summer
The first commercial cars are going to be part of the German “greenfuel” project where innogy, one of the leading energy companies in Europe, is demonstrating the entire value chain of methanol as an alternative liquid fuel over traditional fossil fuels. The RMFC-system has been undergoing thorough testing and has been tested on the roads for more than a year with great results.
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Mads Friis Jensen
Chief Commercial Officer
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