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The University of Southampton

Research project: Assessment of the effectiveness of fuel cell as an alternative technology for marine propulsion systems

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Energy efficiency of ship propulsion system gains a significant interest in order to face the rise in fuel prices and to reduce the environmental impact of ship operation. Using simulation, fuel cell will be investigated in this project as an alternative power source for ships.

This work aims to develop a simulation tool suitable for assessing the effectiveness of alternative forms of ship propulsion system and power sources such as fuel cell using MATLAB/SIMULINK software. This simulation tool will be validated using data gained from lake experiments employing a 1/60 scale model of a tanker ship developed by University of Southampton which will be controlled using Robot Operating System (ROS).

1/60 scale ship model
1/60 scale ship model

Fuel cell as a technology is not new; William Grove discovered it in 1839 but its use in the marine application as a source of power needs further research and developments. However, Fuel cell considers as a promising technology for future ‘Green Ship' applications.
Fuel Cell is an electrochemical device that converts the chemical energy of fuel directly to electricity via electrochemical reactions which gives us higher efficiency, lower emissions, quite operation and lower maintenance since fuel cell has no moving parts. It consists of two electrodes, anode and cathode, separated by an electrolyte where hydrogen is supplied at the anode where it is oxidised and oxygen is supplied at the cathode where it is reduced. The ions travel through the electrolyte and electrons flow in the external circuit producing electric current.
So, if we produce hydrogen from renewable energy such as solar, wind or wave energy, fuel cell will have zero emissions operation. We mean no COX, no NOX, and no SOX, which are found in conventional fuel combustions.

Related research groups

Maritime Engineering
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