Samsung Group is about more than making smartphones and refrigerators. Its Samsung Heavy Industries division is a prominent global shipbuilder. SHI has formed a joint venture with Bloom Energy to design and develop zero emissions oceangoing ships. Traditional ships are some of the highest pollution sources in the world. Taming the emissions plume that follows in their wake wherever they go would be an important step forward in ridding the world of pollution from the transportation sector.
In a press release, Haeki Jang, Vice President of shipbuilding & drilling sales engineering at SHI, says, “By signing this joint development agreement, SHI has a plan to develop eco-friendly ships that will lead the future of the industry. Our goal is to replace all existing main engines and generator engines with these highly efficient solid oxide fuel cells to align with the International Maritime Organization’s 2030 and 2050 environmental targets.”
The two companies will work together to build highly efficient fuel cell-powered ships and plan to present the first designs to potential customers in 2022. They expect the market for their zero emissions propulsion units could reach 300 megawatts a year. Bloom Energy has created a dedicated, cross-functional team of engineers to adapt its solid oxide fuel cells to the unique requirements of the marine environment.
Solid oxide fuel cells have been the principal focus of Bloom Energy since it was founded in 2001. The building block of its business is what it calls its Bloom Energy Server, a solid oxide fuel cell with a capacity of 100 kilowatts which fits in the size of a typical parking space. The Bloom Energy Server converts air and nearly any fuel source — ranging from natural gas to a wide range of biogases — into electricity via a clean electrochemical process, not combustion.
As many of the units as necessary can be linked together to meet the needs of individual customers. The company’s primary business is building microgrids that are not dependent on sun or wind and can operate all day every day.
“The marine shipping industry has the ability to make a substantial impact on emissions and air quality at ports and across our planet,” says KR Sridhar, CEO of Bloom Energy. “We see a collaboration with one of the world’s largest shipbuilders, SHI, as a moment to make measurable strides in reducing emissions and extending our mission for clean, reliable energy to the seas.” In addition to drastically lowering carbon emissions, the solid oxide fuel cells will virtually eliminate all sulfur and nitrogen oxide pollution from ships.
The joint venture agreement follows an approval in principle last September for fuel cell-powered Aframax crude oil tankers from DNV GL, the internationally accredited marine shipping registrar and classification society. The next class of ship to be submitted for design approval will be LNG carriers.
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