Maritime industry players join forces to realize the decarbonization potential of solid oxide fuel cells

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Alfa Laval Test and Training Centre (Image Courtesy: Alfa Laval)

Alfa Laval, DTU Energy, Haldor Topsoe, Svitzer and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping are entering into a joint project to accelerate the development of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. Funded by a grant from Danish EUDP (Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program), the partners will pursue a high-efficiency solution with the scalability to support marine industry decarbonization.

The project, SOFC4Maritime, will target optimal utilization of future green fuels via application of SOFCs for power production on marine vessels. When based on fuels such as ammonia, hydrogen or bio-methane, SOFCs hold great promise as a replacement for today’s fossil fuels. Such alternatives are needed in the maritime industry, which must transition to greener power over just a few decades.

By electrochemically converting fuel into electricity, SOFCs can potentially produce power with higher efficiency than internal combustion engines running on the same fuel – without creating polluting emissions or particulates. Ammonia-based SOFCs are especially attractive, since ammonia can be produced in large scale using renewable electricity and no biomass resource. The research will therefore have ammonia-based SOFCs as its starting point.

Alfa Laval, a marine supplier with more than a century of expertise, will head the development initiative. Haldor Topsoe will provide the underlying SOFC stack technology, while DTU Energy will support in system layout and component testing. Svitzer will bring a shipowner perspective and the Mærsk McKinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping will ensure a broad industry overview, end-to-end analysis of various energy pathways and a detailed techno-economic analysis.

Sameer Kalra, President, Alfa Laval Marine Division

“Addressing shipping’s environmental challenges – and climate change in particular – will require a diverse range of strong technologies. By partnering with fellow marine industry experts, we can investigate the possibilities and bring them to fruition in time to make a difference.” Sameer Kalra, President, Alfa Laval Marine Division.

“We are proud to contribute with our competences within SOFC technology and ammonia as a marine fuel in order to reduce carbon emissions from shipping. This is an urgent goal in combatting climate change.” Kim Grøn Knudsen, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Haldor Topsoe.

“Our know-how in the performance and testing of SOFC technology and components will be utilized well in this important project aimed at a carbon-free shipping industry.” Søren Linderoth, Head of Department, DTU Energy.

“We are eager to pursue this project, which will provide essential information and enhance the feasibility of future pathways to zero carbon shipping based on SOFCs.” Bo Cerup-Simonsen, CEO, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

Shipping’s road map to decarbonization

Global shipping accounts for around 3% of global carbon emissions, a share that is likely to increase as other industries tackle climate emissions in the coming decades.

Bo Cerup-Simonsen, CEO, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping

Achieving the long-term target of decarbonization requires new fuel types and systemic change within the industry. Shipping is globally regulated, which provides an opportunity to secure broad-based adoption of new technology and fuels. However, new legislation will be needed to enable the transition.

To accelerate the development of viable technologies, a coordinated effort within applied research is needed across the entire supply chain. Industry leaders play a critical role in ensuring that laboratory research is successfully matured to scalable solutions that match shipping needs.

Sea News Feature, January 19

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra

Associate Editor, Sea News