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Shell and partners to demonstrate fuel-cell shipping technology

Oil Rig

Together with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and other partners, Shell is to launch a project to demonstrate the potential of fuel cells to power large shipping vessels.

Under the consortium agreement, HyAxiom and Doosan Fuel Cell will develop and supply a 600KW high-efficiency power generation system based on solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) for the project. HHI, meanwhile, will design and build a 174,000 cubic-metre LNG tanker with the fuel cell system integrated as an auxiliary power unit. Shell, which also makes industrial fluids like gear oil, will then manage and operate the vessel on a real trade route as part of the one-year demonstration project.

Shell’s Senior Vice President for Shipping & Maritime, Karrie Trauth, said about the project:

“This consortium and the cutting-edge technology we’re pioneering could help deliver less carbon-intensive operations in the near term, while unlocking a pathway to net-zero through the blending of conventional and alternative fuels until zero-carbon options are available at scale.”

She also emphasised her company’s excitement at working with some leading players in the shipping sector to progress the shared desire of gradually decarbonising shipping and ultimately making it an emission-free industry.

SOFCs work by directly oxidising a fuel to produce electricity rather than burning it to produce kinetic energy, so they achieve much greater levels of efficiency, especially if the heat produced is also harvested, with considerably fewer emissions. HHI intends to use the lessons learned from this project to develop and build highly efficient vessels with propulsion systems based on fuel cell technology.

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