SEOUL -- Shell, a global energy and petrochemical group, formed a consortium with DNV, a classification society based in Norway, and three South Korean companies to develop fuel cells as an auxiliary power unit. It will be demonstrated on a trade route for one year from 2025 by mounting a 600-kilowatt solid oxide fuel cell system on a 174,000 cubic meter liquefied natural gas carrier.
SOFC is an electrochemical conversion device that produces electricity directly from oxidizing a fuel. Because SOFC has a high power output compared to its size, the fuel cell system is ideal for powering mega-sized heavy equipment such as oil tankers and giant tunnel boring machines.
The consortium also groups Doosan Fuel Cell, the clean energy wing of South Korea's Doosan Group, and its subsidiary Hyaxiom, and Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE), the holding company of South Korea's Hyundai shipbuilding group. In the long run, the consortium aims to develop ships powered by solid oxide fuel cells.
Shell is responsible for managing and operating a demonstration ship as well as overall project management, while DNV will approve drawings, inspect facilities, and certify the demonstration ship.
KSOE will manufacture a demonstration ship, install SOFC, and modify and integrate a ship system. "We hope this fuel cell ship demonstration will help preoccupy next-generation eco-friendly ship technologies and speed up marine decarbonization," KSOE vice chairman Ka Sam-hyun said in a statement on October 11.
Doosan Fuel Cell is in charge of the SOFC system and its crucial equipment. "By applying Doosan's mid- and low-temperature SOFC, which has higher power efficiency and relatively longer life expectancy than existing products, to ships, we hope to increase efficiency in ship operations and speed up the timing of marine decarbonization," said Doosan Fuel Cell CEO Chung Hyung-rak.
Doosan Fuel Cell's SOFC system operates at 620 degrees Celsius. Lower temperatures dramatically increase the number of potential applications and provide the opportunity to incorporate a wider variety of materials in SOFC power generation systems with greater reliability and lower cost.
Doosan said its SOFC system ensures power efficiency, low maintenance costs, and low noise and vibration. If ammonia and hydrogen are used as fuel, marketability will increase as pollution-free power sources. Hyaxiom, which is responsible for the development of a SOFC system, is competitive in the field of phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFC) that use liquid phosphoric acid as an electrolyte.
South Korea is investing heavily to utilize hydrogen fuel cells as a new power source to meet carbon emission standards required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a U.N. maritime safety agency. In 2021, Doosan Fuel Cell partnered with the Hyundai shipbuilding group to co-develop a megawatt-class SOFC system for vessels.
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