Hydrogen fuel cells are the future of power generation, and the cruise industry is taking baby steps towards them. Viking’s newest cruise ship uses these technologies as prototype installations of the systems mentioned above. Fincantieri, the shipyard that constructed the Viking cruise ship, notes its significance for the evolution of the technology and the establishment of guidelines for using hydrogen on cruise ships.
The Italian shipyard Fincantieri has delivered the ninth Viking Cruises vessel it has constructed to Viking using the same design, the Viking Neptune. Since the Viking Star introduced the class in 2015, the company has been delivering the cruise ships. These cruise ships are 228 metres in length, have a gross tonnage of 47,842, and have a passenger capacity of 930.
Viking and Fincantieri have collaborated regularly on designing, delivering, and managing eco-friendly cruise ships. A modest hydrogen fuel system for onboard power has been installed aboard the Viking Neptune, the first cruise ship to feature such a system as part of the company’s ongoing partnership. They plan to use the miniature setup to determine whether or not hydrogen fuel usage should be implemented on a broader scale in the construction of future structures.
The experimental hydrogen fuel cell module produces 100 kW of nominal power, according to Fincantieri. All that is needed to power these low-temperature PEM cells is hydrogen gas and room air.
Companies have reportedly increased their R&D efforts to speed up the creation of hydrogen-related applications suitable for broad use. First, the two businesses cooperated on the design of a larger ship configuration to be implemented in deliveries after 2024. A larger hydrogen tank, fuel cell system, and associated auxiliary systems are being planned. Therefore they are defining areas and arrangements to support these upgrades. In the second phase, a hydrogen-producing system with a total power of about six to seven MW will be built. In the view of Fincantieri, it will be the largest size ever tried on a cruise ship.
The Viking Neptune’s fuel cell system is similar to a small prototype solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system installed on the MSC World Europa, which was delivered in October by its builders, Chantiers de l’Atlantique. It runs on electricity created by electrochemical reactions with the LNG, and it’s based on technology developed by Bloom Energy. Each module has the potential to generate 75kW of power. MSC uses the setup as a testbed for developing hybrid propulsion fuel cell technology.
Viking is working with Fincantieri to develop a larger cruise ship with fuel cell technology.
Viking Cruises used September 2022 to activate options for more ships to be constructed by Fincantieri. Four cruise ships, optimised for use with hydrogen fuel cells, are scheduled for construction with a delivery window between 2026–2028.