Yanmar Develops Marine Hydrogen Fuel Cell System

Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd. and its subsidiary Yanmar Power Technology Co., Ltd. have announced the development of a hydrogen fuel cell system for maritime applications based on fuel cell technology for automobiles.

The development is being driven in part by the International Maritime Organization’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero by the end of this century. As a result, marine environmental regulations have been tightened worldwide and the implementation of emission control areas has begun to have an effect on ship operations, Yanmar said.

To date, Yanmar said it has addressed various regional demands for emission control regulations by developing dual-fuel engines and ever cleaner diesel engine technologies. The next challenge, the Osaka, Japan company said, is to develop non-fossil fuel powertrains.

As a part of this challenge, Yanmar has been working on development of future powertrains using hydrogen as fuel. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Toyota Motor Corp. to develop a hydrogen fuel cell system for maritime applications based on hydrogen fuel cell system components including high pressure hydrogen tanks on MIRAI, a hydrogen fuel cell automobile manufactured by Toyota.

With a view to realizing an easily installable module with superior cruising range, Yanmar said it aims to install the maritime fuel cell system on its own boat and start a field demonstration test by the end of FY2020. Furthermore, the company plans to expand the technology for a variety of applications and deployments.

The creation of Yanmar Power Technology was announced late last year as part of a corporate reorganization. The group took over Yanmar’s engine business on April 1. The company said Yanmar Power Technology was created to fuel global growth in power systems, and to provide technical solutions to maximize life cycle value and minimize environmental impact.

Yanmar’s interest in hydrogen fuel cells goes back to at least 2018, when it announced participation in a test of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered boat under the research project towards development of the guidelines for safety of hydrogen fuel cell-powered boats in support of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Japan (MLIT).

Yanmar, the National Maritime Research Institute (NMRI) and the Japan Ship Technology Research Association (JSTRA) formed a consortium to develop the draft guidelines for safety of hydrogen fuel cell-powered boats. This project was a three-year plan, which MLIT has implemented since 2015. In the final phase, the consortium carried out a field test towards development of the draft guidelines using a 60 kW hydrogen fuel cell system, based on the results of primary testing in previous phase of the project and successfully verified the safety requirements for the hydrogen fuel cell system. The consortium submitted this summary and the draft guidelines to MLIT.

The 60 kW maritime fuel cell system prototype was developed through collaboration between Yanmar and Toyota Tsusho with modules from Ballard Power Systems Inc of Canada. The fuel cell system was installed on the test boat provided by NMRI with a lithium-ion battery system developed by Uzushio Electric Co., Ltd., and Yanmar and NMRI jointly conducted the field test. The test verified the safety requirements for both the hydrogen fuel cell system and the lithium-ion battery system.

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