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ROLLS-ROYCE SEES FUEL CELLS AND SYNTHETICS AS DECARBONISATION SOLUTIONS

Monday, August 24, 2020 

Rolls-Royce Power Systems has set up a new 'Power Lab' unit to focus on innovative and net zero carbon drive and energy solutions, concentrating on deployment of new technologies for the marine and infrastructure sectors, with a strong emphasis on fuel cell systems and synthetic fuels.

Andreas Schell, CEO Rolls-Royce Power Systems, said: “We've made it our mission to leverage the trends we're seeing in our markets by creating the new drive and energy solutions our customers are looking for which support a climate-neutral future. Therefore, it is essential that the development of our product portfolio is centred on new technologies which enable this future. The Power Lab is an important milestone on the path we're taking.”

The Power Lab is headed by Dr Peter Riegger, previously Research & Technology division leader. He sees a willingness to embrace new technologies as the key to success. In this respect, long-term partnerships nurturing the development of technologies and capabilities will play a crucial role.  “Our research engineers now have more technological freedom to develop new ideas and refine them in cooperation with customers and partners,” said Riegger.

Fuels based on renewable energies (Power-to-X) are one of the options. Dr Arne Schneemann, responsible for pre-development in the Power Lab team, said: “Synthetic fuels can support the net zero carbon operation of both today's existing drive and energy systems and those of the future, in addition to enabling the storage of renewables-based energies. We believe in this technology and are keen to endorse its development in collaborations and research projects.”

According to Dr Daniel Chatterjee, overseeing Technology Management and Regulatory Affairs and driving the Green and High-Tech Programme, “We're placing the emphasis on improved efficiencies, alternative fuels, electrification, digitalization and integrated system solutions with the aim of continually enhancing the eco-friendliness of our drive and energy systems and bringing them closer to their CO2 neutrality.”

The Power Lab has set its sights on the use of fuel cells. “In terms of overall efficiency, the fuel cell is the undisputed front-runner and on top of that generates ultra-low to zero emissions,” said Dr Philippe Gorse, whose team is responsible for conceptual work on the fuel cell in the Power Lab. “That makes it a highly attractive option for contributing to the decarbonisation of drive systems and power generation.”

Rolls-Royce Power Systems is cooperating with Daimler Truck on developing carbon neutral fuel cell systems for power to mission-critical applications. The partnership has been looking at taking fuel cell modules used in the automotive industry to create a demonstrator that will contribute to the power requirement of Rolls-Royce facilities in Friedrichshafen.

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