Of - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions  -  October 5, 2020

Odfjell explores fuel cell tech to decarbonize shipping industry

Norwegian shipping company Odfjell revealed with industry partners a new fuel cell project that could increase fuel flexibility and provide emission-free operation in shipping transportation, an industry that transports around 90% of the world trade.

Odfjell partnered with Prototech, a fuel cell tech company, Wärtsilä, a maritime tech and energy company, and Lundin Energy Norway, an oil and gas company, on this project. The team is exploring technology that would allow for different types of fuel, like green ammonia and LNG, to be used in shipping vessels based on availability. This technology is also being explored as a way to provide emission-free operation over long distances, a feat previously challenging for existing battery technology.

The Norwegian shipping industry is targeting carbon neutrality by 2050. This project in particular is being tested at the Sustainable Energy catapult centre in Norway and was presented to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, although the technology could have much wider applications.

“Ships are to be operated for 20-30 years, and we need flexible solutions that can meet future emission requirements. We do not have time to wait, we have to think about zero emissions already now,” Erik Hjortland, VP Technology at Odfjell SE, said in a statement. “The fuel cell project is one of the paths we are pursuing. We focus on machinery rather than focusing on one single type of fuel. Fuel cell technology gives us flexibility that ensures environmentally efficient operation regardless of fuel changes that may occur in the years ahead.” 

It is estimated that new and flexible fuel cell technology could reduce emissions from the shipping industry by 40-100%. The current technology being pursued under this partnership includes the construction of a 1.2 MW prototype fuel cell that is being tested in Norway and then will be mounted and tested onboard one of Odfjell’s newest chemical tankers.

“Increased efficiency and reduced fuel consumption also provide significant cost savings, and the ship will be able to sail significantly longer on the same amount of energy,” Bernt Skeie, CEO of Prototech, statement. “The system will also be ready to operate completely emission-free from the locations where, for instance, ammonia is available for bunkering. The technology also enables direct capture of CO2, which will be yet another alternative for emission-free operation when logistics for CO2 management become available.”

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