Cruise Ship

Development of a high power density multi stack fuel cell system for passenger ships


Ricardo is working with the sustainable hydrogen-powered shipping consortium (‘sHYpS') to design and develop hydrogen fuel cell propulsion technologies to power the next generation of zero emissions passenger ships.  

The project is intended to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen as a renewable fuel in the maritime industry:

  • Developing fast and feasible technical solutions
  • Facilitate accelerating the hydrogen supply-chain development and logistics
  • Defining safety and handling requirements 

The objectives are:

  • Development of a novel liquid hydrogen fuel storage designed to marine codes and also for road transport
  • Design of a modular, containerised Fuel Cell based energy conversion system
  • Design of an integrated hydrogen logistics network
  • Demonstration on a hybrid cruise ship in 2025
  • Validation of the business case


Ricardo scope of work

  • Specify, engineer and design a ~400 kW fuel cell sub-module with common, optimised balance of plant for multiple stacks
  • Specify, engineer and design a containerised fuel cell installation of around 3 MW per 40-foot ISO shipping container
  • Ensure appropriate interfaces with ship systems and include consideration of classification requirements (Lloyd’s register are a partner)
  • Assess suppliers, procure and build a single sub-module
  • Test the sub-module in steady state and transient conditions in the 
  • Ricardo 400 kWe fuel cell test chamber

Anticipated benefits

  • Power-dense solution to meet the packaging demands of an application where space = revenue
  • Increased energy conversion efficiency through the optimisation of the balance of the plant for the specific application
  • Optimisation of rejected heat for ship heat consumers
  • Reduced part count and control complexity associated with larger power sub-modules and common balance of plant


Ricardo’s expertise in developing bespoke, optimised, high-power, multi-stack fuel cell systems delivers significantly enhanced power density by volume and mass. This has been a particular focus, given the space constraints of a passenger ship. It also provides an opportunity to improve system efficiency and reduce system complexity and cost through increased integration and reduction in component count. 


Co-funded by the European Union under Horizon Europe, the European Union’s research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement Number 101056940. The consortium of members represents 5 European countries: Italy, France, Czechia, Germany, Norway and UK. UK participants are supported by UK RI grant numbers 10038162 (Ricardo UK) and 10039049 (Lloyd’s Register).  Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or Innovate UK. Neither the European Union nor Innovate UK can be held responsible for them.



European Commission Research & Innovation

Start and end dates

03/2022 - 06/2025



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