Bloom Energy and Samsung Heavy Industries team up on fuel cells

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 30 September 2019

ShipInsight


Us-based Bloom Energy and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), a part of Samsung Group, have announced a collaboration to design and develop ships powered by Bloom Energy’s solid oxide fuel cell technology. Bloom Energy is the world’s leading provider of stationary fuel cells and SHI is one of the world’s largest shipbuilding companies.

SHI aims to be the first shipbuilder to deliver a large cargo ship for ocean operation powered by fuel cells running on natural gas. Such an innovation will play a key role in helping the company exceed the 50% emissions reduction target, compared to 2008 levels, that IMO plans shipbuilders should achieve by 2050.

Oxide

The two companies have already taken an important first step towards commercialising the maritime use of fuel cells for propulsion and auxiliary power. At a ceremony in the SHI Geoje shipyard, Samsung Heavy Industries announced they have received Approval in Principle from DNV GL, the internationally accredited marine shipping registrar and classification society, in collaboration with Bloom Energy to proceed with a fuel cell-powered ship design for Aframax crude oil tankers (COTs).

“As regulations to reduce GHG emissions take effect step-by-step, the introduction of fuel cells to vessels is inevitable. This approval, and being the first shipbuilder to secure this marine fuel cell technology, illustrates that Samsung Heavy is highly likely to lead the market,” said Kyunghee Kim, vice president of SHI Outfitting Engineering Team.

“It is a meaningful GHG emissions reduction measure to apply Bloom Energy’s fuel cell system to SHI’s new Aframax design. SHI’s new Aframax design is equipped with a new generating system in combination of the conventional, generator engines, and the new fuel cell technology, both fueled with LNG,” said Hwa Lyong Lee, vice president of Regional Business Development, Maritime at DNV GL. “This innovative design is one of the ways to improve GHG emissions, to further make LNG a solid and long-term solution.”

Replacing combustion-based power generation from bunker oil with electrochemical conversion of liquid natural gas (LNG) through fuel cells could have a profound impact on carbon emissions from marine transportation. Bloom Energy and SHI estimate that replacing oil-based power generation on large cargo ships, which require up to 100 megawatts of power per ship, could reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 45%.

“Bloom Energy has already helped companies around the world reduce their carbon emissions by more than four billion pounds of CO2,” said KR Sridhar, founder, chairman and CEO of Bloom Energy. “Bringing the Bloom Energy Server’s transformative clean technology to the shipping industry provides us with a tremendously exciting opportunity to accelerate the decarbonization of another vital sector of the global economy.”

The modularity of Bloom Energy Servers makes them well suited to the space constraints of ships. Unlike large, multi-megawatt generating combustion engines, Bloom Energy Servers can be deployed in increments as small as 200 kilowatts, enabling power sources to be distributed throughout a ship to optimize space utilization. SHI envisions Bloom Energy Servers displacing existing power generation sets, and therefore requiring no additional space, or even reducing the total space required for power generation.

Bloom Energy Servers have been deployed hundreds of times on land including on-site at commercial and industrial businesses, counting 25 of the Fortune 100 companies. The same technology has been approved by DNV GL to be deployed aboard ships with minor modifications to suit ship installation and use in an enclosed environment.

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