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Korean Shipbuilders Racing to Develop Fuel Cell-powered Vessels

Korean shipbuilders are racing to develop next-generation ships powered by fuel cells.

Samsung Heavy Industries plans to test a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier powered by solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) in the second half of this year. The shipbuilder is planning to test the LNG carrier at LNG demonstration facilities at Geoje Shipyard.

SOFCs are a fuel cell that uses solid oxide as an electrolyte. SOFCs developed by Samsung Heavy Industries use LNG as fuel, replacing current internal combustion engines. They do not require many devices needed in conventional vessels, and emit a smaller amount of harmful substances and greenhouse gases. Earlier, Samsung Heavy Industries developed SOFCs in collaboration with Bloom Energy of the United States and obtained approval in principle (AIP) from Norwegian-German ship classification company DNV.

Samsung Heavy Industries’ competitors are also scrambling to develop fuel cells for ships. Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE), a shipbuilding holding company of Hyundai Heavy Industries, acquired AIP for an SOFC power generation system from DNV in late 2020. KSOE is planning to replace part of a 3MW power generation engine installed on an Aframax crude oil carrier with SOFCs and expand it to its entire power apparatus. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) is carrying out research and development on high-efficiency fuel cells.

The ongoing competition in fuel cell technology development among Korean shipbuilders is expected to help them secure a lead in the next-generation eco-friendly fuel cell ship market. Europe is currently considered a world leader in eco-friendly fuel cell ships. Europe began developing technologies in the early 2000s and is now at the level of operating such ships.
Source: Business Korea

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