Lürssen, a zero-emission yacht using fuel cells

Lürssen will build its first yacht using fuel cell technology. Fuel cells are already well known in the world of transport, but are also used in mobile devices and power plants. (top: Peter Lürssen)

This is an extremely efficient technology that allows electricity to be generated through chemical processes, without any thermal combustion taking place. 

For Peter Lürssen, this is the fulfillment of a dream. “My grandfather built the world’s first motor boat in 1886, and my dream is to be the first to build a yacht without a combustion engine,” says the CEO of Lürssen Yachts.

The fuel cell will work alongside conventional generators, making it possible to anchor without emissions for 15 days and sail 1000 miles at low speed.

The fuel cell will work alongside conventional generators, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. This technology makes it possible to anchor without emissions for 15 days or sail for 1000 miles at low speed.

Development to start by 2021

The research will take place in an Innovation Laboratory where the integration and operation of a marine hybrid fuel cell system on board a methanol-powered yacht will be simulated and tested.


Dr. Justus Reinke, managing director of Lürssen confirms: “The Innovation Laboratory will be ready in the summer of 2021 and under real environmental conditions and with all the required auxiliary systems we consider this demonstration facility as the final preparation for successfully bringing fuel cells onboard a yacht. It will certainly bring us one step closer to a CO2-free Lürssen yacht.”

A strategic partner of the Lürssen shipyard is Freudenberg.  One of the leading experts in maritime fuel cells, it is a global technology group with around 48,000 employees in 60 countries.

The fuel cell will be powered by hydrogen that is continuously reformed from methanol, and not from elemental hydrogen, as is already the case in other contexts. The choice of methanol is justified by its higher energy density, ease of handling, and easy availability. In addition, methanol can be stored in structural tanks in the boat’s double bottom, in contrast to pressurized or liquefied hydrogen, which requires valuable space above the top of the tank and extensive facilities.

(Lürssen, combustion cells for an emission-free yacht – Barchemagazine.com – April 2021)