Hydrogen fuel cell ships and LNG-powered ships have certain similarities. They are both new energy ships and fuels with hazardous chemical properties. LNG-powered ships encounter high manufacturing/operating costs during the promotion process. Issues such as pending development, lack of policies and regulations, and insufficient personnel training will also reappear in the promotion of fuel cell ships. Taking into account the domestic LNG ship promotion experience and the industrialization foundation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the hydrogen cloud chain believes that infrastructure, technology, policies and regulations and safety standards will still be the problems that need to be solved urgently in the demonstration and promotion of fuel cell ships.
1. Technological breakthroughs are difficult
(1) High-power fuel cell systems are difficult to balance. The power demand of the 10,000-ton ship will reach the MW level, which is much higher than the 100KW power level of the vehicle system. In the current market where the power of a single stack is limited, it is necessary to form a system of multiple stacks to meet the power requirements of the ship. For power system technology, this is not a simple superposition of multiple low-power stacks, and how to maintain the system balance among multiple stacks is very important.
(2) It is difficult to store and refill hydrogen. Taking the fuel cell pilot ship designed by CSSC as an example, the ship uses 35MPa high-pressure hydrogen cylinders to store hydrogen. In the future, fuel cell ships will likely use high-pressure hydrogen, a relatively mature storage method. Due to the distance between the ship and the shore, the refueling scenarios of vehicles and ships are also different. It is necessary to improve the hydrogen refueling technology for vehicles to ensure the smooth refueling of marine hydrogen, and even consider changing the storage method of hydrogen on board. If liquid hydrogen, solid hydrogen storage or liquid hydrogen storage are used, the safety of hydrogen storage and filling will be greatly improved, but it will also take time and energy to develop technologies and standards.
(3) Safety management is difficult. The waterway of the ship is often far from the city, the environment is complex, and there is a considerable distance away from the shore. In the event of an accident, it will be difficult to carry out rescue, and it will be difficult for the people on board to rescue themselves. Therefore, the stability of the marine power system and the safety of the energy storage system Extremely demanding. In contrast, a car’s power system can still be parked on the side of the road to wait for rescue if the power system fails. If the ship breaks down, it is difficult to predict the safety of the ship in the complex water environment. If a spontaneous combustion or explosion accident occurs, the consequences are disastrous. Therefore, a relatively mature marine hydrogen safety management scheme is required before the demonstration.
2. Regulatory problems
According to the experience of LNG-powered ships, compared with technical problems, management regulations will be the real difficulties faced by the promotion of fuel cell ships.
(1) The CCS certification standard system has not been perfected. The marine fuel cell power system must be certified by CCS, and China Classification Society also issued the “Fuel Cell System Application Guide” in 2015. However, there is currently a lack of relevant practice cases in China and relevant standards have not been perfected, which has a certain impact on the design and certification of marine fuel cell systems. A person in charge of a power system manufacturer told the hydrogen cloud chain that so far, there is no fuel cell power system certified by CCS in China, but several manufacturers are doing related work.
Judging from the China Classification Society (CCS) identity certification obtained by CATL in April, it is not too far for the hydrogen cloud chain to judge that fuel cell companies have passed CCS certification. Some manufacturers have obtained China Classification Society (CCS) identity certification, achieving zero breakthroughs.
(2) Relevant laws and regulations have not “unbound” hydrogen onboard. Due to the hazardous properties of hydrogen, relevant departments are very cautious about the boarding of hydrogen, which greatly hinders the application of hydrogen fuel cells in ships, which is similar to what happened to inland LNG-powered ships before. Natural gas-powered ships have been popularized in inland waters for ten years, but the strict management of approval and manufacturing, ship locks, and ports has greatly limited the power of shipowners to develop natural gas ships.