6. March 2018

Celeroton oil-free compressor CT-17-1000.GB in a maritime fuel cell application

Michelin Recherche et Technique beside other project partners is a technology provider for alternative propelled boats. With the project Yelo H2 a maritime demonstrator boat – with the purpose of validating hydrogen technology in maritime applications – has been built. The boat, called “Galilée”, was put into operation in October 2017 and connects the marina of the city of La Rochelle with its city center. For the realization of the fuel cell system Michelin found in Celeroton a partner, which can provide an oil free compressor for the supply of air to the fuel cell.

This boat or “sea bus” is the first boat in France in salt water with hydrogen as energy source. This cutting edge flagship project depends on several technologies such as safe hydrogen handling and storage and a fuel cell and reliable oxygen supply of the fuel cell. In Celeroton Michelin found a partner, which can provide an oil and lubricant free, small and safe compressor for the supply of air to the fuel cell. Oil-free to ensure a long and uninterrupted operation of the fuel cell, small to meet the size restrictions of the boat and safe in respect to robustness and reliability and very silent to not degrade silent operation of this electric propulsion.

Boat docks at jetty
Figure 1: Boat Galilée in the marina of La Rochelle.

Michelin chose the gas bearing turbo compressor CT-17-1000.GB in combination with the fuel cell converter CC-120-1000. Both have proven their reliability in various other fuel cell projects and are well suitable for this maritime application. The gas bearing turbo compressor combines all requirements for the oxygen, respectively air supply in a compact and against ambient sealed unit. The gas bearings operate contact free and ensure long lifetime, which is crucial for passenger transport systems. Beside the lifetime, numerous start-stops are mandatory.

Figure 2: Celeroton Oil free Turbo Compressor.
Fuel cell power unit
Figure 3: Fuel cell power unit of the boat «Galilée» with hydrogen tanks (left) and the fuel cell stack (right).

The CC-120-1000 on the other hand is capable of starting the fuel cell from an auxiliary power input at low voltage in the range of 8 – 32 VDC. Therefore, standard automotive starter batteries can be used to start the fuel cell. During operation of the fuel cell, the CC-120-1000 is supplied via its second (high-voltage) input, which leads to a lower number of balance of plant components. At the same time, the power train’s inverter power electronics can be designed for the net power of the fuel cell since the converter CC-120-1000 is connected to the output voltage of the fuel cell directly. This reduces the load on and the size of the power train itself.