Engineering, technology and consultancy service provider Expleo has released details of its closed-loop, e-methanol fuel cell solution for global shipping. The company states the solution has the capability to reduce a vessel’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) by 92%, while offering OPEX savings of £1.4m (US$1.7m) each year per vessel.
The solution was defined during a feasibility study into clean power propulsion systems funded through the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Clean Marine Demonstration Competition (CMDC) and was modeled on the Bibby Wavemaster 1, a multi-tasking vessel which is used to service offshore wind farms.
“Our solution uses solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), technology which, although highly efficient and well suited to use in marine environments, releases a high concentration of CO2,” said Jonathan Taylor, VP of Marine, Expleo. “To achieve the desired reduction in GHGe, we partnered SOFC with a novel carbon capture and storage system, enabling a vessel to use its captured CO2 and green hydrogen to synthesize e-methanol. The green hydrogen in the solution can be produced at offshore wind farms, from surplus electrical energy or supplied in-port – ensuring the closed-loop remains as sustainable as possible.”
Taylor continued, “This circular solution [enables] the marine industry to make its own fuel and removes the need for costly processing and transportation. In addition, we’ve been able to demonstrate that this solution would achieve a 92% reduction in GHGe in the model vessel – delivering the much-needed breakthrough on emissions and supporting the creation of green shipping corridors, as outlined in the Clydebank Declaration.”
During the study, Expleo found that the solution could deliver OPEX reductions of £1.4m (US$1.7m) each year, per ship and a projected payback period of around four years on a retrofit, for the vessel used in the model.
The solution was developed for sharing with the open market and supports the DfT’s aims of commercializing and accelerating the decarbonization of the maritime industry. At present, the company is investigating the scalability of the solution with several partners.
“This could revolutionize a sizeable portion of the global fleet, helping them to retrofit in line with targets for net zero,” explained Jeff Hoyle, EVP Aero Space and Defence, Expleo. “And, as a replacement for diesel generators, it can easily be incorporated into new build designs offering up to 100% reduction in GHGe.”
“This has the potential to help the world’s shipowners achieve million-pound savings, heralds the introduction of circular fuel ecosystems and delivers a reduction of 92% in GHGe,” concluded Taylor. “It is a system-of-systems and offers the world’s shipowners a truly scalable solution.”