Published 2020-10-04 00:00:00
Fuel cell project develops ground-breaking fuel solution
Fuel cell project develops ground-breaking fuel solution for ships and offshore

New and flexible fuel cell technology can reduce emissions from shipping by 40 to 100%. Partners from shipping, R&D and oil and gas are now constructing a pilot system that can use different types of fuel. The system will first be tested at the Sustainable Energy catapult centre in Norway before installation on board a chemical tanker. The unique project was presented to the Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, during a ceremony celebrating an expansion of the catapult centre yesterday.

The new technology opens for many different types of fuel, including green ammonia and LNG. With this flexibility, vessels can choose fuel according to availability. The main partners in the project are Odfjell, Prototech, Wärtsilä and Lundin Energy Norway. Odfjell has leading expertise in global shipping, Prototech in fuel cell technology, Wärtsilä in maritime technology and energy, and Lundin Energy Norway in oil and gas.

“Our tests show a CO2 reduction of as much as 40-45% when using LNG, compared to current solutions. 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. The system will also be ready to operate completely emission-free from the locations where, for instance, ammonia is available for bunkering,” says Bernt Skeie, CEO of Prototech.

“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,” Skeie explains.
“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,” says Erik Hjortland, VP Technology at Odfjell SE. “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.”

“The new energy solution has the potential to take us a big step closer to the goal of climate neutrality. Fuel flexibility will be a significant contribution to secure future solutions for new ships. And it does not stop with ships, this solution can also be used in offshore oil and gas operations,” says Ingve Sørfonn, Technical Director in Wärtsilä
So far, the project has been funded with support from Gassnova, NFR, and the participants themselves. Now the project is constructing a 1.2. MW prototype fuel cell that first will be tested at the Sustainable Energy catapult centre at Stord, Norway. Then it will be mounted and tested onboard one of Odfjell's newest chemical tankers.

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