MSC Cruises holds steel-cutting ceremony of first LNG-powered ship

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MSC Cruises holds steel-cutting ceremony of first LNG-powered ship

MSC Cruises has celebrated an important milestone with the traditional cutting of the first steel and naming of the first World Class ship, MSC Europa, by MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago. MSC Europa is the first of five LNG-powered cruise ships on order and the first LNG ship to be built in France (at Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard). This event marked another important step forward in MSC Cruises’ long-term commitment to environmental stewardship both at sea as well as ashore.

“MSC Cruises has since its inception embraced a commitment to environmental stewardship and ways to minimize and continuously reduce our environmental footprint both at sea and ashore with the use of innovative, leading-edge and effective technologies across our entire fleet,” said Vago. “Today is even more significant as we begin the construction of our first of five LNG-propelled ship, which will further elevate our standards in environmentally-sound cruising thanks to this use of alternative fuels, as well as other cutting-edge technologies.”

“Our journey when it comes to environmental protection both while at sea and when calling the port communities that we serve does not stop here. With each new ship each time we will push further the boundaries of innovation in terms of environmental technology. And we will specifically focus our R&D investment into accelerating the development of next-generation advanced solutions and other technologies – from more alternative fuels, shore power availability, batteries, fuel cells and beyond. All of this while we retrofit and upgrade our existing fleet – one of the most modern at sea – with the latest and best available technologies to continuously improve our environmental performance fleet-wide,” he added.

Laurent Castaing, General Manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, also commented: “The official start of construction of the first World Class ship is a major milestone in the history of our partnership with MSC Cruises. We are happy and proud to provide our privileged customer with state-of-the-art solutions which significantly lessen the environmental impact of the ships. MSC Cruises can thus benefit from the result of R&D programs we have been leading for the last ten years on energy saving schemes and environmentally-friendly technologies.”

In conjunction with the cutting of the first steel ceremony of MSC Europa, MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique also unveiled a ground-breaking R&D project named PACBOAT that focuses on the integration of a new fuel cell technology demonstrator onboard the LNG-powered MSC Cruises ship. This demonstrator will produce electricity and heat using LNG. The announcement was marked by the signing of the consortium agreement between the various partners involved.

The integration of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology onboard a cruise ship is a world first. This technology operates at very high temperature (~750° C) and is more efficient for high-power marine-like applications than the low-temperature Hydrogen-based Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) solutions, used for instance in the automotive sector. The SOFC technology offers a very good electrical efficiency of up to 60% and as the heat produced can be self-consumed on board its total efficiency – heat and electricity – can be much higher, resulting in a direct reduction of energy consumption and, therefore, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This SOFC solution fueled by LNG would thus reduce emission of GHG by about 30% compared with a conventional LNG engine, with no emission of NOx, SOx or fine particles. In addition, it offers the advantage of being compatible with many fuels (LNG/methane, methanol, ammonia, hydrogen, etc.), and thus with their future low carbon versions.

“We are pleased to be able to support this highly innovative project, as it further demonstrates our commitment to contributing to the development of next-generation advanced environmental technology for the benefit of the entire industry. This is a key element in our journey towards zero-emissions operations both at sea and ashore,” concluded Vago.

When speaking of alternative fuels, MSC Cruises is investing €5 billion in the construction of five LNG-powered ships. Compared to standard marine diesel, LNG reduces SOx emissions by more than 99% and NOx emissions by up to 85%. It also largely eliminates particulate matter in the ship’s exhaust and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as an additional 20 per cent. The 205,700 GT LNG-powered World Class ship MSC Europa will come into service in May 2022 and is the first of four futuristic World Class ships to be constructed at the French yard with further deliveries scheduled for 2024, 2025 and 2027. In addition, one Meraviglia-Plus ship will also be propelled by LNG when the ship comes into service in 2023.

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