Odfjell, a prominent chemical tanker operator, is embarking on a groundbreaking journey towards greener and more sustainable maritime operations.
Teaming up with Alma Clean Power and DNV, Odfjell is set to test a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system for shipboard power generation. If all goes according to plan, one of Odfjell’s tankers will be equipped with an SOFC by the end of the next year. This strategic move aligns with the shipping industry’s increasing commitment to reducing carbon emissions and embracing cleaner energy sources.
Solid oxide fuel cells are a cutting-edge technology that operates at high temperatures and boasts remarkable energy efficiency. They have the unique advantage of being compatible with various fuels, including ammonia, liquefied natural gas (LNG), methanol, and hydrogen, to generate electricity. Compared to traditional internal combustion engines, SOFCs generally offer superior energy efficiency.
Odfjell’s initial step involves installing an 80-kilowatt SOFC “generator” module on one of its tankers, which will primarily run on natural gas. This endeavor serves as a stepping stone toward larger, more powerful SOFC devices. Alma Clean Power achieved a significant milestone in January when it secured an Approval in Principle (AIP) for a one-megawatt fuel cell powered by ammonia, demonstrating the technology’s scalability.
Solid oxide fuel cells, despite their impressive efficiency, are known for their weight, which has limited their application in onshore mobility. However, the maritime industry presents a unique context where the weight of SOFCs can be managed effectively.
In addition to Odfjell’s pioneering efforts, other maritime players are venturing into SOFC testing agreements. Hyundai Heavy Industries plans to launch an LNG carrier in 2025, equipped with a 600 kW SOFC generating unit that will produce auxiliary power for the vessel. Doosan Fuel Cell and HyAxiom are the key players responsible for developing and supplying the fuel cells for this innovative project.
Denmark is also actively exploring SOFC technology through the SOFC4Maritime initiative. This consortium brings together industry leaders such as Svitzer, Alfa Laval, DTU, Haldor Topsøe, and the Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping to trial ammonia-fueled SOFCs.
Odfjell’s foray into SOFCs represents a significant stride towards a more sustainable future for maritime transportation. As the shipping industry seeks innovative solutions to address environmental concerns and reduce its carbon footprint, solid oxide fuel cells offer a promising avenue for achieving these goals. Odfjell’s commitment to testing and integrating this cutting-edge technology underscores the industry’s determination to navigate towards greener waters.