Exploring Aluminum Battery Technology for Marine Applications

exploring marine applications for new battery technology
High stack battery - Yara Marine Technologies

Published Jan 14, 2021 7:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Yara Marine Technologies, which currently specializes in complete emission control systems for the maritime industry, announced the selection of a new battery technology as the first company for its accelerator program.  

The maritime industry has shown strong interest in the potential of batteries as one element to achieve the goals of reducing emissions. After initial discussions, Yara believes the new battery technology being pursued by the start-up company holds a strong potential due to its ability to generate power, unique properties that make it rechargeable with minimal lost time, and its space efficiency.

 Start-up company Phoenician Energy is seeking to adapt aluminum-air battery technology for marine applications. The company licenses the developing battery technology and from that has developed a 4.8 MWh system enclosed in a 20-foot shipping container.

“Phoenician Energy’s use of aluminum-air battery technology for the maritime industry triggered our scientists’ curiosity,” says Thomas Koniordos, CEO of Yara Marine Technologies. “Their container battery is especially interesting. The concept taps into several recent trends and developments, such as circular economy and the electrification of marine vessels. We believe this technology may have an important role to play in a greener maritime industry for future generations.”

Jesper Hellstro?m, Head of Research and Development at Yara Marine explains how the system works and what makes it attractive for further development. The charging of an aluminum-air battery happens at an aluminum production plant, he explains and then the battery in effect consumes aluminum, which is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust. As the aluminum depletes it generates alumina which is also a valued commodity. The alumina Hellstro?m explains can be recycled back to aluminum at the aluminum plant, but it also has uses in other industries. 

“Al-air batteries have one of the highest energy densities of all batteries, with more than four times the capacity of the conventional lithium-ion battery. Higher density means that longer ranges can be achieved, and a smaller footprint means more space for revenue-producing cargo,” says Udi Erell, Founder and President of Phoenician Energy. “In addition, we do not recharge our system on board, instead, we replace it with a fully charged one, eliminating downtime that would be required for recharging conventional batteries. The consumed battery is then re-equipped with new aluminum. Furthermore, Aluminum-air batteries do not lose capacity when not in use nor do they degrade over time. They are also inherently safe, with no danger of temperature runaway”.

Together with Yara Marine Technologies, Phoenician Energy will move into its next phase. The company expects to access Yara’s experience with engineering and procurement as well as with production and installation. 

The accelerator is a six-month program, after which Yara Marine Technologies may choose to invest in the company and its technology. Launched in 2020, the program’s goal is to identify promising new green technologies for the maritime industry and assist those startup companies.