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Odfjell Tankers and partners to develop ‘ground-breaking’ technology to power ships

05 Oct 2020

Chemical tanker firm Odfjell Tankers on Friday (2 October) said its partners from the shipping, R&D and oil & gas sectors are now constructing a pilot system and researching the use of future carbon-neutral fuels for viable use in marine engines.

The project is active in investigating alternative means for eliminating emissions, including the use of fuel cells as fuel cell technology can now reduce emissions from shipping by 40 to 100%, it said. 

It aims to develop a fuel-cell based technology that can provide emission-free operation over long distances.

Battery solutions are currently not suitable for operating ships that sail long distances and this category consists of more than 50,000 ships globally and thus constitutes a big share of international shipping.

The system will first be tested at the Sustainable Energy catapult centre in Norway before being installed on board an Odfjell chemical tanker.

The project was presented to the Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, during a ceremony celebrating an expansion of the catapult centre on Thursday. 

Odfjell noted the new technology has made many different types of fuel, including green ammonia and LNG viable options for bunker fuel. 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, it said. 

“Our tests show a CO2 reduction of as much as 40-45% when using LNG, compared to current solutions,” said Bernt Skeie, CEO of Prototech. 

“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.

“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.”

Odfjell noted the unique feature of the new technology is its high energy efficiency and the flexibility that enables substantial emission reductions already from day one with the use of currently available infrastructure for LNG – while also preparing for emission-free operation in line with the development of value chains and infrastructure for sustainable fuels in the years to come.

“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,” said 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.”

 “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,” added Ingve Sørfonn, Technical Director in Wärtsilä.

So far, the project has been funded with support from Gassnova, NFR, and the participants themselves, said Odfjell.

Currently 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.

Photo Credit: Odfjell Tankers
Published: 5 October, 2020

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