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Nissen Kaiun and Synergy Explore Non-Flammable Batteries for Shipping

rechargeable, non-flammable batters for shipping
Japanese bulker operator Nissen Kaiun is part of the project to develop non-flammable, rechargeable batteries to increase marine applications (file photo)

Published Jul 20, 2022 2:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

Battery power to drive electric ships is increasingly drawing interest in the maritime world although concerns over the cost of the battery and especially fire safety remain a hurdle to full implementation. So far numerous projects are exploring the applications of batteries with ships already employing supplemental battery power used for short durations such as maneuvering in ports while an increasing number of inland and short-sea ferries are also expanding the use of batteries.

In a new collaboration, U.S.-based start-up Alsym Energy, a developer of next-generation rechargeable batteries, will work with Singapore-based ship manager Synergy Marine and Japanese ship owners and operator Nissen Kaiun, to jointly develop marine-specific battery applications to address the challenges that are currently limiting the use of batteries in the shipping industry.

“Zero-emission vessels are the future of maritime shipping, and we’re working with like-minded owners, including Nissen Kaiun, to decarbonize every part of the ecosystem as quickly as possible,” said Captain Rajesh Unni, Founder and CEO of Synergy Marine Group. “By lowering the cost of electrification and minimizing the risk of battery-related fire events, Alsym’s technology is well-placed to be a safer alternative that can help the shipping industry meet its goal of zero net emissions by 2050—especially in light of the European Commission’s recent proposal to classify lithium as toxic.”

By using low-cost, inherently non-flammable raw materials, Alsym aims to provide batteries at a fraction of the cost of lithium-based technologies, making electrification both safe and economically viable. The company reports that it uses a proprietary, breakthrough technology without using lithium or cobalt but does not provide more specifics on the materials used in its process.

Mukesh Chatter, President and CEO at Alsym Energy said “By manufacturing batteries from low-cost, readily available materials that are inherently non-flammable and non-toxic, we’re providing an economically-viable way to help them decarbonize while also lowering operating expenditures and insurance costs associated with lithium and cobalt-based battery technologies.”

According to the company, its batteries will help reduce risks to crew and cargo, as well as lower costs for fleet managers and shippers. Alsym says that its batteries may be used to propel cargo ships and tankers as they enter and leave port, power berthed ships, and support peak shaving applications at sea.

Under the agreement with Synergy and Nissen Kaiun, Alsym will provide one gigawatt of batteries per year for three years starting in the company’s first year of high-volume production, conditional on the battery systems meeting key performance levels and regulatory requirements specific to cargo ships and tankers. The company plans to start pilot manufacturing its batteries for electric vehicles, ships, and stationary storage later this year at its facility in Massachusetts, with high-volume production expected to follow in 2025.

Last month, Alsym, which said it has been working on its technologies for energy-dense batteries for the past seven years, said it was partnering with a leading India-based automaker in a joint effort to develop Alsym’s batteries for EVs. Founded in 2015, Alsym reports it has raised $32 million to date from investors including Helios Climate Ventures.