The research project TecBIA, aims to validate the sustainable technology of fuel cells for naval applications through the construction of the prototype ship named ZEUS with hybrid propulsion, classified by RINA in October 2022
ZEUS (Zero Emission Ultimate Ship) is the first RINA Classed ship capable to be propelled by Hydrogen. The aim of the research is to find sustainable and low environmental impact solutions for cruise ships, mega-yachts, ferries and oceanographic research vessels by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and particulate matter.
About 25 meters long and weighing about 170 tons, ZEUS’s primary objective is that of a floating laboratory to study fuel cells, electrochemical conversion devices, which generate electricity and heat without thermal combustion. The ship is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system consisting of two diesel generators and two electric motors. In addition, there is a 144-kW fuel cell system, powered by about 50 kg of hydrogen contained in metal hydride cylinders, and a lithium battery system. This configuration will allow the ship to sail for approximately eight hours at a speed of 7.5 knots in zero emission mode, using the electricity supplied by the fuel cells, or to sail for approximately another four hours at a speed of four knots in mode zero noise, using batteries.
The TecBIA project (Technologies with Low Environmental Impact for the production of energy on naval vessels) by Fincantieri, wass co-financed by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and was attended by many entities: Fincantieri, Isotta Fraschini Motori, Cetena, Seastema, the CNR, the Universities of Genoa, Palermo and Naples, ENR and RINA. This project confirms that the use of hydrogen is a possible solution (especially for short sea application) to produce the required propulsion energy with no CO2 emission.
“The use of hybrid technologies, using hydrogen and batteries in combination with diesel engines, is a first step and we assume that further development will be a reality very soon. It is therefore essential to have guidelines and regulations that lead to the achievement, through technological innovation, of cutting-edge fleets with particular attention to safety and environmental issues. Achieving decarbonisation by 2050 is a puzzle to be built by putting all the pieces together: owners, shipbuilders, class societies authorities, technology providers, clean fuel from renewable source producers and so on.”