Skip to main content



Friday, September 25, 2020 

The Fincantieri Group shipyard in Castellammare di Stabia, Italy, has laid the keel for the 'ZEUS' Zero Emission Ultimate Ship, an experimental fuel cell-powered vessel, which is due to be completed in 2021.

ZEUS is the result of research activity aimed at improving the level of environmental sustainability of cruise ships, mega-yachts, ferries and oceanographic research vessels, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulates.

Measuring about 25m in length and weighing around 170 tons, ZEUS will serve as a floating laboratory to investigate fuel cell behaviour in natural settings. ZEUS will be fitted with a conventional diesel electric hybrid propulsion system (two diesel generators and two electric motors), as well as a battery system and a 130kW fuel cell powered by about 50kg of hydrogen contained in eight metal hydride cylinders. The fuel cell system draws on submarine technologies, while the battery system will enable a zero-emission navigation range of 8 hours at a speed of about 7.5 knots.

The propulsion system is designed to operate in four different ways:


  • Zero Noise, using only lithium batteries, guaranteeing navigation range of 4 hours at a speed of 4 knots;
  • Zero Emission, with electric power supplied by the fuel cells;
  • Navigation using diesel generator while batteries are being recharged;
  • Navigation using diesel generator for transfers and a navigation range of 60 hours at 9 knots.


The second research goal is to develop a new way of generating electricity and heat on board cruise ships. This will result in:


  • greater passenger comfort, by reducing noise and vibrations from the power generating systems;
  • increased energy conversion output by adopting power generating systems with no moving mechanical parts;
  • higher ship safety by increasing the redundancy of existing systems; and
  • smaller onboard diesel generating sets.


Other research activities include testing new ways of using innovative green outfitting, such as new covering materials and photovoltaic panels to keep batteries and low-Watt OLED light bulbs charged.

Several Group shipyards and subsidiaries are involved in the project: Castellammare di Stabia and Palermo shipyards, Fincantieri SI, Seastema, Cetena and Isotta Fraschini Motori. CNR (National Research Council of Italy), the universities of Genoa, Palermo, and Naples, the ENR (National Institution of Italy for Standardization Research and Promotion) and RINA act as project’s consultants. The vessel will be built as part of the project entitled 'Low Environmental Impact Technologies' (TECBIA), co-funded by the Ministry for Economic Development as part of the National Operational Plan.

Reader Comments (0)

There are currently no comments on this article. Why not be the first and leave your thoughts below.

Leave Your Comment

Please keep your comment on topic, any inappropriate comments may be removed.

Return to index