World’s first cruise ship powered by solid oxide fuel cell


France Bloom Energy, Chantiers de l’Atlantique (CdA), and MSC Group’s cruise division plan to launch the world’s first cruise ship powered by solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology.

The MSC World Europa, a new cutting-edge cruise liner being built at the CdA shipyard, will be outfitted with 150 kilowatts of Bloom fuel cells. Bloom will power the ship with liquefied natural gas (LNG), one of the cleanest marine fuels available.

When compared to traditional marine combustion-based propulsion and auxiliary engines, Bloom’s fuel-flexible platform is designed to generate electricity 20 to 30 percent more efficiently via a non-combustion electrochemical process when using LNG. Bloom Energy’s LNG-powered technology reduces carbon equivalent emissions by up to 60% when compared to incumbent propulsion sources such as dual fuel diesel electric, and emits virtually no harmful air pollutants such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.

With over 100 cruise ships requiring over four gigatonnes of power commissioned for construction by 2027 across the cruise line industry, Bloom’s fuel cells provide a viable path to decarbonization while ensuring cruise ship passengers and coastal communities with heavy maritime traffic enjoy cleaner air. As an added bonus for cruise ship passengers, when Bloom’s fuel cells are used as a power source aboard ships, noise pollution and mechanical vibrations are significantly reduced.

CdA is a global leader in the design and delivery of breakthrough, innovative ships, bringing cutting-edge technologies, concepts, and processes to its global maritime customers. CdA and MSC Group’s cruise division unveiled Blue Horizon in 2019, a groundbreaking initiative that integrates SOFC technology on LNG-powered cruise ships to decarbonize the maritime industry. The classification company Bureau Veritas has approved Blue Horizon for MSC World Europa.

The deployment of Bloom’s solid oxide technology onboard the MSC World Europa is part of a larger strategy for MSC Group’s cruise division, which is the world’s third largest ship brand. MSC Group has long been committed to environmental stewardship, with a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. The company is a significant investor in next-generation environmental marine technologies such as SOFC, with the goal of accelerating their development and availability across the industry.

Bloom Energy’s latest collaboration is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to decarbonize the maritime industry. Bloom Energy’s initial design for an engineless, fuel cell-powered LNG carrier, developed in collaboration with Samsung Heavy Industries, received Approval in Principle from DNV, a leading international maritime classification society, this summer. Bloom Energy was also certified as an alternative power source for vessels by the American Bureau of Shipping as part of the New Technology Qualification.

The MSC World Europa’s sea trials are expected to begin in the second half of 2022. In the future, larger fuel cell installations on additional ships in collaboration with CdA are expected.