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Comparative LCA of methanol-fuelled SOFCs as auxiliary power systems on-board ships


  • Strazza, C.
  • Del Borghi, A.
  • Costamagna, P.
  • Traverso, A.
  • Santin, M.


Fuel cells own the potential for significant environmental improvements both in terms of air quality and climate protection. Through the use of renewable primary energies, local pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions can be significantly minimized over the full life cycle of the electricity generation process, so that marine industry accounts renewable energy as its future energy source. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the use of methanol in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC), as auxiliary power systems for commercial vessels, through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The LCA methodology allows the assessment of the potential environmental impact along the whole life cycle of the process. The unit considered is a 20Â kWel fuel cell system. In a first part of the study different fuel options have been compared (methanol, bio-methanol, natural gas, hydrogen from cracking, electrolysis and reforming), then the operation of the cell fed with methanol has been compared with the traditional auxiliary power system, i.e. a diesel engine. The environmental benefits of the use of fuel cells have been assessed considering different impact categories. The results of the analysis show that fuel production phase has a strong influence on the life cycle impacts and highlight that feeding with bio-methanol represents a highly attractive solution from a life cycle point of view. The comparison with the conventional auxiliary power system shows extremely lower impacts for SOFCs.

Suggested Citation

  • Strazza, C. & Del Borghi, A. & Costamagna, P. & Traverso, A. & Santin, M., 2010. "Comparative LCA of methanol-fuelled SOFCs as auxiliary power systems on-board ships," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(5), pages 1670-1678, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:87:y:2010:i:5:p:1670-1678

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Meyer, Lutz & Tsatsaronis, George & Buchgeister, Jens & Schebek, Liselotte, 2009. "Exergoenvironmental analysis for evaluation of the environmental impact of energy conversion systems," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 75-89.
    2. Hua, Jian & Wu, Yi-Hsuan & Jin, Pang-Fu, 2008. "Prospects for renewable energy for seaborne transportation—Taiwan example," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 1056-1063.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gómez, Sergio Yesid & Hotza, Dachamir, 2016. "Current developments in reversible solid oxide fuel cells," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 155-174.
    2. Nease, Jake & Adams, Thomas A., 2015. "Comparative life cycle analyses of bulk-scale coal-fueled solid oxide fuel cell power plants," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 161-175.
    3. Prabu, V. & Jayanti, S., 2012. "Underground coal-air gasification based solid oxide fuel cell system," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 406-414.
    4. Ling-Chin, Janie & Roskilly, Anthony P., 2016. "Investigating the implications of a new-build hybrid power system for Roll-on/Roll-off cargo ships from a sustainability perspective – A life cycle assessment case study," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 181(C), pages 416-434.
    5. Huang, Yanjun & Khajepour, Amir & Wang, Hong, 2016. "A predictive power management controller for service vehicle anti-idling systems without a priori information," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 182(C), pages 548-557.
    6. Hong, Wen-Tang & Yen, Tzu-Hsiang & Chung, Tsang-Dong & Huang, Cheng-Nan & Chen, Bao-Dong, 2011. "Efficiency analyses of ethanol-fueled solid oxide fuel cell power system," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(11), pages 3990-3998.
    7. Díaz-de-Baldasano, Maria C. & Mateos, Francisco J. & Núñez-Rivas, Luis R. & Leo, Teresa J., 2014. "Conceptual design of offshore platform supply vessel based on hybrid diesel generator-fuel cell power plant," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 91-100.
    8. Casas-Ledon, Yannay & Arteaga-Perez, Luis E. & Dewulf, Jo & Morales, Mayra C. & Rosa, Elena & Peralta-Suáreza, Luis M. & Van Langenhove, Herman, 2014. "Health external costs associated to the integration of solid oxide fuel cell in a sugar–ethanol factory," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1283-1292.
    9. repec:eee:appene:v:204:y:2017:i:c:p:1198-1214 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Komatsu, Y. & Brus, G. & Kimijima, S. & Szmyd, J.S., 2014. "The effect of overpotentials on the transient response of the 300W SOFC cell stack voltage," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 352-359.
    11. Lee, Young Duk & Ahn, Kook Young & Morosuk, Tatiana & Tsatsaronis, George, 2015. "Environmental impact assessment of a solid-oxide fuel-cell-based combined-heat-and-power-generation system," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 455-466.
    12. repec:eee:energy:v:126:y:2017:i:c:p:585-602 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Yang, Jin & Chen, Bin, 2014. "Global warming impact assessment of a crop residue gasification project—A dynamic LCA perspective," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 269-279.
    14. Sorce, A. & Greco, A. & Magistri, L. & Costamagna, P., 2014. "FDI oriented modeling of an experimental SOFC system, model validation and simulation of faulty states," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 894-908.
    15. Nagashima, Shin & Uchiyama, Yohji & Okajima, Keiichi, 2017. "Hybrid input–output table method for socioeconomic and environmental assessment of a wind power generation system," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 185(P2), pages 1067-1075.
    16. Yan, Min & Zeng, Min & Chen, Qiuyang & Wang, Qiuwang, 2012. "Numerical study on carbon deposition of SOFC with unsteady state variation of porosity," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 754-762.


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