Fuel Cell Project Seeks To Cut Marine Emissions

By Jack Burke02 October 2020

A Norwegian fuel cell project is testing the use of fuel cell technology to help overcome limitations of battery technology in marine applications.

The main partners in the project are Odfjell, a major shipping operator, Prototech, a specialist company in fuel cell technology, and Lundin, a leading offshore oil & gas company. Wärtsilä is participating in the project with expert support.

Hybrid propulsion solutions utilizing both conventional engines and energy storage for ferries and harbor vessels allow emissions-free sailing when close to population centers. However, for long-distance ocean-going vessels, current battery technology does not provide sufficient energy storage for the entire voyage. The Norwegian project is testing the use of fuel cell technology as a means for overcoming this limitation. Preliminary results from the testing indicate that CO2 reductions of as much as 40 to 45% are possible when using LNG as fuel, and emissions can potentially be reduced even further with other fuels, such as ammonia.

“Greater efficiency and increased sustainability are at the core of Wärtsilä’s Smart Marine Ecosystem vision,” said Ingve Sørfonn, Technology Manager at Wärtsilä Marine Power. Z’We see the combustion engine remaining as the stalwart of shipping, because it has the flexibility to operate on future renewable fuels as and when they become compliant, market-ready and available. However, we are keen to support all efforts and innovations aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of shipping, and we see this fuel cell project as being an important contribution to this effort.”

The project’s fuel cell technology is first being tested with a 1.2 MW prototype at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Center in Stord, Norway. Later, the prototype will be installed onboard an Odjfell chemical tanker for sea trials.

The project has thus far been funded by Gassnova, the Norwegian state enterprise for carbon capture and storage, and by the participants.

 

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