Lürssen – German heritage and innovation at its finest

As one of the premier shipyards in Europe, Lürssen is a trusted name in yacht building. The brand is renowned for its new construction yachts that are as beautiful as they are powerful, functional and innovative. “To lead in terms of quality and performance, that should be my company’s reputation.” This ambition of company founder Friedrich Lürßen in 1875 still characterises the philosophy of the Bremen-based shipyard today. The firm’s deep-rooted connection to shipbuilding and German seafaring excellence is evident in every hull launched by the renowned builder. All Lürssen yachts are custom built to owners’ specifications with an uncompromising dedication to quality and style.

Lürssen builds yachts from 55m in length to larger than 180m. Lürssen’s advanced craftspeople, technicians, naval architects and specialised engineers collaborate flexibly with one another and yacht owners to create bold, poetic floating works of art.

Three notable launches in 2021 were; project JAG, a 122m built for an experienced owner who in fact upgraded from a previous 96 metre Lürssen yacht. With a 17.80m beam, JAG boasts extraordinary volumes but manages to maintain its sleek and elegant lines. To launch later in 2021 is project 13800 a bespoke 55m yacht. The launch will be exactly three years after the owner signed the contract with Lürssen, convinced that no other shipyard could meet his strong demands for a truly bespoke 55-metre yacht with an unusual but for him perfectly fitted layout. And, perhaps one of the most publicised yacht deliveries across the industry’s media platforms was the February 2021 launch of project Opus, now christened NORD. “Nord was designed with one idea in mind: she must cause strong emotions in every observer, not only through her sheer size, but with the design itself. No one should be left indifferent,” says Dan Lennard of the yachts design studio Nuvolari-Lenard. “Whether you like the design or not, it must strike you. Nord is a serious ship first and foremost, but she also transcends the traditional language of yacht design. She is a warship wearing a tuxedo, an explorer with the elegance of a gentleman’s yacht. We have entered a new direction in serious yacht design.”

With eight production facilities in North Germany, Lürssen has highly specialized shipyard equipment at its disposal which enables more than 2,800 employees to build, overhaul and repair ships. A central characteristic of the owner operated shipbuilding company is its independence from any kind of outside influence. The quality of the products alone is the measure of all things.

Innovation is a major driving force behind the company across all it’s departments and the company is proud to have launched some of the industries most unique and boundary pushing yachts on the ocean. As part of this company ethos, Lürssen set up an Innovation Laboratory which will be ready to for launch Q4 of 2021.

At this time Lürssen is building its first yacht with fuel cell technology for a pioneering and technology driven client. The fuel cell is flanking the conventional generators and is a big step to an emission free Lürssen yacht. This innovative technology makes it possible to anchor emission-free for 15 days or cruise 1000 miles at slow speed.

Peter Lürssen states: „My grandfather built the world’s first motorboat in 1886, my dream is to be the first to build a yacht without a combustion engine.”

The innovation Lab was established to simulate and test the integration and operation of a Marine Hybrid Fuel Cell System on board a yacht powered by methanol.

Since 2005 Lürssen has been involved in research projects aimed at using fuel cells on ships in order to advance sustainable shipbuilding. “We don’t just want to use the latest technology on our yacht – we want to advance the status quo. And in order to change things, you have to be active. That is why we have teamed up with several top partners,” says Peter Lürssen.

Since 2009 Lürssen is partner in the national research project which is called Pa-X-ell. In addition to Lürssen the other partners are: Besecke, Carnival Maritime, DLR, DNV, EPEA, Freudenberg and Meyer Werft. The aim is the development and testing of a hybrid energy system with a new generation of PEM fuel cells for yachts and seagoing passenger vessels.

Dr. Justus Reinke, managing director of Lürssen confirms: “The Innovation Laboratory will be ready in summer 2021 and under real life ambient conditions and with all required auxiliary systems we consider this demonstration plant to be the final preparations to bring fuels cells on board a yacht successfully. It will definitely bring us a step closer to a CO2 emission free Lürssen yacht.”

Lürssen has committed to a strategic partnership with Freudenberg, one of the leading experts for maritime fuel cells and a global technology group with around 48.000 employees in 60 countries. Peter Lürssen says: „With Freudenberg we have a strong partner at our side. We both have the aim to bring fuel cells on-board ships in the near future and revolutionise the yacht’s energy and propulsion system.”

Lürssen’s and Freudenberg’s concept is a fuel cell driven by hydrogen which is continuously reformed from methanol. The choice of methanol rather than elemental hydrogen has been made due to its higher energy density, the simplicity of handling and easy world wide availability. But most important, methanol can be stored in structural tanks in the double bottom of a yacht in contrast to pressurized or liquefied hydrogen which requires valuable space above the tank top and extensive tank structures.

Dr. Manfred Stefener, Head of the Lead Center Fuel Cell Systems of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies explains: “Based on our vast knowledge in Fuel Cell Systems and Hydrogen generation by reforming methanol in connection with Freudenberg’s proven industrialization expertise, we are committed to realize innovative power and propulsion solutions for the maritime industry. We are happy to have Lürssen as partner for bringing the combination of the mature polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEMFC) with an efficient conversion process of methanol into hydrogen on the first yacht worldwide.“

Methanol is an important base material for the chemical industry and has been an option to be used as clean fuel for decades. When produced from renewable sources like by CO2 capturing from the atmosphere, methanol, is completely climate-neutral. Peter Lürssen comments: “Due to the low dynamic capability of fuel cells the system layout and the combination with other energy converters and storages is the key for a successful fuel cell power system. The yacht, which is currently under construction, will be able to stay more than 15 days at anchor with the night time power supply being a zero emission mode. And the yacht can reach more than 1000 miles slow cruising with zero emission.”

As a family-run shipyard, Lürssen sees itself as having a special responsibility not only to its customers, but in equal measure to its employees as well. Therefore, the 2,800 people rely on traditional values ​​such as stability and loyalty and long-term perspectives.

“Beyond that both the Lürssen family and the whole company see it as an obligation to reduce as far as possible the effects of the yachts on the environment. For this reason, we are constantly investing in energy technologies which have led to great progress in the area of sustainability. Hence all latest-generation ships are marked by improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions of soot, CO2 and noise”, states Peter Lürssen.

Moreover, Lürssen is the world’s first shipbuilding company to make use of the heat given off by the generators and propulsion engines on a large motor yacht to a large degree to produce potable water by means of desalination. Ecological awareness is the second, equally important side of Friedrich Lürssen’s ambition to lead in terms of quality and performance.

As a testament to the Lurssens technical achievements and historical prowess for building some of the world’s most beautiful yachts, Lürssen can boast that today, 29 of the Top 100 yachts in the world have been built by Lürssen (9 of the Top 20). The founder’s dream to become one of the leading shipbuilders is still present in the spirit of Lürssen and all the people who work there.