The unique new Lürssen zero-emission watercraft will be the first of its class to be powered by H2 fuel cell technology. The identity of the buyer was not revealed. Credit: Handout.

While Europe, Asia and North America move toward zero-emission transportation, the majority of that technology is being put into vehicles, and, even airplanes.

You can now add one more sector that is eager to go green — the superyachts of the super rich.

Though German ship builder Lürssen doesn’t typically announce its future plans in advance, it recently unveiled its intentions to launch a new hydrogen-powered superyacht.

“Contrary to our normal behavior we can tell you today that we are actually building a superyacht with a fuel cell installed on the yacht,” said Peter Lürssen, CEO and the yard’s managing partner, in reports in Hydrogen Fuel News and Super Yacht News.

“It is very exciting and he [the owner] gave us permission a week ago to talk about it. This, I think, will push the eco-friendliness of yachts to a new dimension in the new future.”

The fuel cell will be flanking conventional generators and represents a major step towards an emissions-free superyacht.

Sources say the target delivery date for the unnamed client is 2025.

The new technology should make it possible to anchor emission-free for 15 days or cruise 1000 miles at a slow speed.

“My grandfather built the world’s first motorboat in 1886, my dream is to be the first to build a yacht without a combustion engine,” said Lürssen.

To bring the project to fruition, Lürssen is setting up an Innovation Laboratory to simulate and test the integration and operation of a Marine Hybrid Fuel Cell System onboard a yacht powered by methanol.

Since 2005 Lürssen has been involved in research projects with Freudenberg Group experts aimed at using fuel cells on ships to advance sustainable shipbuilding.

“We don’t just want to use the latest technology on our yachts – we want to advance the status quo. And, in order to change things, we have to be active. That is why we have teamed up with several top partners,” continues Lürssen.

Lürssen has committed to a strategic partnership with Freudenberg, one of the leading experts for maritime fuel cells and a global technology group.

“With Freudenberg we have a strong partner at our side. We both have the aim to bring fuel cells onboard ships in the near future and revolutionise the yacht’s energy and propulsion system,” explains Lürssen.

“We are pleased to enter into a long-term partnership with Lürssen, the leading, innovative shipyard in the yacht sector. Together we will set standards for sustainable, emission-free mobility for yachts,” adds Claus Moehlenkamp, CEO of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies.

The plant uses technology to produce hydrogen fuel from methanol. The H2 would then be used in fuel cells to generate the electricity that would be used by the hydrogen powered superyacht.

Though the plant doesn’t produce green H2, it remains cleaner to produce than fossil fuels traditionally used by these vessels.

According to the company, the fuel cells the craft will be using also require minimal maintenance and are notably more efficient than diesel engines. The only emissions released by the use of this renewable energy is water vapor.

While Lürssen’s design will be the first to be produced, assuming that it meets its target, it is not the first time that this renewable energy technology has been considered for a superyacht.

In September 2019, Sinot unveiled its own design for its Aqua 360-foot model that contains an H2 propulsion system. That said, the Aqua design involved the use of liquid hydrogen.

The Lürssen design converts methanol into hydrogen. Methanol is an easier substance for handling and storage than liquid hydrogen. Equally, its chemical composition still contains a substantial amount of hydrogen.

According to Lürssen, the client for whom they are developing the hydrogen powered superyacht “loves technology and new developments,” and asked that the company prove the “practical value” of the H2 propulsion before the go-ahead was granted.

Lürssen is an independent and family-owned shipbuilding company with over 140 years of experience. It specializes in the custom building of mid-sized and large yachts of 55 to 110 meters in length as well as refits and maintenance of smaller vessels.

Sources: Hydrogen Fuel News, Super Yacht News