A Fuel Cell for Marine Use

Posted: March 1, 2012

By: Roger McAfee

As more boaters are opting to refit their existing vessel rather than buy a new one, many are considering an electrical upgrade. The good news for them is that the fuel cell has finally made its way to the marine field.

Unless a boat has a separate generator, keeping batteries topped up is always a problem. Solar panels and wind chargers are becoming more common and operate well within their limitations, but if there’s no sun or wind there’s no charge.

Generators work well, but they are noisy and use ever-more-costly fuel, and many smaller vessels don’t have space for them. 

Fuel-cell technology has been around for a long time, and finally a German company has developed the hardware that, in a practical way, brings the advantage of the technology to the consumer market. Last year, U.S. Marine Products of Taunton, Mass., became the distributor of EFOY fuel cells to boaters in North America. The company won a prestigious Eco Award at the 2011 International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition and Conference for that product. 

Without getting into the mind-numbing technical details, a fuel cell is a device that generates electricity via a chemical reaction. The operation of the EFOY fuel cell produces a very small amount of carbon dioxide — an amount equal to a baby’s breath, according to the builder — and water. An operating EFOY is whisper quiet, emitting just 27 decibels, which is about half as loud as in a library. The fuel for the cell is methanol.

Because there is no “exhaust” as we tend to think of exhaust, the fuel cell can be installed in any well-ventilated area on a boat. When installed, the EFOY automatically keeps the battery topped up. The battery can coincidentally be connected to a solar cell or a wind charger, and the EFOY will operate only when the battery requires more charge.

U.S. Marine imports two EFOY cells, the 1600, which produces 130 amp hours of 12v DC a day and the 2200, producing 180 amp hours per day. The 1600 Pro and the 2200 Pro can produce either 12v DC or 24v DC. The units weigh less than 20 pounds and are fully portable. The fuel cell operates in temperatures from minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees and measures 17 by 7.8 by 10.9 inches.

Fuel for the charger is imported by U.S. Marine and, while the fuel cartridges look like ordinary poly liquid containers, they are, in fact, very sophisticated safety containers and are certified for air travel. Depending on the amount of power used, a 1.3-gallon cartridge will provide battery charging for 10 to 14 days, and the 2.6-gallon cartridge twice that time.

The suggested retail price is about $5,000 for the larger unit. Street prices can be as much as $1,000 less.

Posted By: On: 5/26/2013

Title:

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Posted By: On: 5/3/2013

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Posted By: On: 2/20/2013

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Thank you for the sensible critique on www.seamagazine.com . Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.

Posted By: On: 1/8/2013

Title:

This website shows some of the associated costs: http://usmarineproducts.com/osc/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=EFOY&x=18&y=10

Posted By: On: 1/8/2013

Title: costssub

This website shows some of the associated costs.

Posted By: On: 3/23/2012

Title: Fuel "cartridge" price??

What is the price of the fuel/fuel cartridge and what is it's availability?

Posted By: On: 3/23/2012

Title: Methanol cartridges?

I was all excited until I saw it was powered by special methanol cartridges. How much are they? where do I get them? how do we refill them?

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