Maritime Hydrogen Fuel Cells Advance with ABS and DNV Class Societies

hydrogen fuel cell technology for maritime industry
Samsung is working with Bloom on a new generation of LNG carriers (Samsung file photo)

Published Aug 2, 2021 9:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

Progress is continuing to be made in the efforts to develop new technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, as a viable carbon-reducing solution on the shipping industry’s path to decarbonization. In the latest developments, two of the leading classification societies, ABS and DNV, recently provided early approvals to hydrogen fuel cell concepts developed by Bloom Energy Services. This includes the first fuel-cell-powered, engineless liquified natural gas carrier and as an alternative power source for vessels.

DNV Approval in Principle Granted for 100 Percent Fuel Cell-Powered LNG Carrier

In July, DNV provided the first approval, an Approval in Principle (AiP) for an LNG carrier powered solely by solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. Samsung Heavy Industries and Bloom Energy launched the effort to develop the vessel design in 2019. According to the companies, fuel cell technology is well-suited to meeting the significant energy requirements of shipping vessels. They are also highly efficient, reduce fuel usage, and in the case of LNG carriers, they believe it will create enhanced opportunities for operators to sell fuel at port.

“Building on the successful deployment of our fuel cells on land powering large loads, Bloom Energy
and SHI have developed a novel solution to reduce harmful emissions and modernize one of the world’s oldest forms of trade with cutting edge, clean energy technology,” said Suminder Singh, senior director, engineering, marine applications, Bloom Energy. 

The fuel cell-propelled LNG carrier eliminates the need for internal combustion engines by replacing the ship’s propulsion and auxiliary engines with fuel cells running on non-combusted natural gas. Bloom says that the design has negligible methane slippage, and can significantly reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions from shipping vessels. As such, they expect the new fuel cell-powered LNG carrier to provide operators a more sustainable option to meet international emission reduction targets.

“Our new concept vessel can dramatically reduce air pollutant emissions, as well as noise and vibration and maintenance and repair costs, by replacing an internal combustion engine with fuel cells,” said Jeong Ho-hyeon, head of Samsung Heavy Industries’ Technology Development Division. SHI plans to conduct tests at LNG demonstration facilities at its shipyard in Geoje, South Korea, and will be launching full-scale marketing for global ship developers.

ABS Verifies Fuel Cell Technology for Marine Environment

Bloom Energy’s technology was also recently awarded a Concept Verified Statement of Maturity by the American Bureau of Shipping as part of the classification society’s New Technology Qualification (NTQ) service. The NTQ service offers guidance on early adoption and efficient implementation of new technologies – demonstrating the technologies’ maturity and risk profile.

“The certification process for marine fuel cells is a rigorous process, requiring new technologies undergo a variety of operating scenarios to ensure they can withstand the harsh conditions at sea,” said Singh. “This verification demonstrates the durability of Bloom Energy’s technology and serves as an important milestone on our path to commercial application.”

ABS engineers reviewed Bloom Energy’s SOFC technology and verified its potential application as an alternative power source for vessels. Bloom Energy expects to achieve final ABS certification and classification in 2022.

“ABS understands the potential that Bloom Energy has to make a real contribution to shipping’s decarbonization ambitions,” said Patrick Ryan, senior vice president, global engineering and technology, ABS. “Our verification highlights the progress of Bloom Energy’s technology to be used at sea, and it marks our commitment to supporting the industry with the safe adoption of fuel cells that meet the highest of standards.”