New fuel cell will have fuel ‘flexibility’

A prototype fuel cell which will be able to use different fuels – including green ammonia and LNG – will be tested at Norway’s Sustainable Energy catapult centre before installation on an Odfjell chemical tanker.

The key partners in the project are Odfjell, fuel cell technology specialist Prototech, Wärtsilä and Lundin Energy Norway.

‘Our tests show a CO2 reduction of as much as 40-45% when using LNG, compared to current solutions. Increased efficiency and reduced fuel consumption also provide significant cost savings, and the ship will be able to sail significantly longer on the same amount of energy.

‘The system will also be ready to operate completely emission-free from the locations where, for instance, ammonia is available for bunkering,’ said Bernt Skeie, CEO of Prototech.

‘The technology also enables direct capture of CO2, which will be yet another alternative for emission-free operation when logistics for CO2 management become available.’

The technology’s high energy efficiency and flexibility will enable significant emission reductions from the outset through the use of the currently available infrastructure for LNG – while also preparing for emission-free operation in line with the development of infrastructure for sustainable fuels in the future.

‘Ships are to be operated for 20-30 years, and we need flexible solutions that can meet future emission requirements. We do not have time to wait, we have to think about zero emissions already now,’ says Erik Hjortland, Technology Director at Odfjell SE.

‘The fuel cell project is one of the paths we are pursuing. We focus on machinery rather than focusing on one single type of fuel. Fuel cell technology gives us flexibility that ensures environmentally efficient operation regardless of fuel changes that may occur in the years ahead.’

To date, the project has received funding from Gassnova, NFR, and the project partners themselves.

The next stage in the programme is the construction of a 1.2. MW prototype fuel cell that first will be tested at the Sustainable Energy catapult centre at Stord and then will undergoing testing onboard an Odfjell chemical tanker.

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes