A fuel cell pilot system that can use different types of fuel was presented to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg last week by Odfjell, Prototech, Wärtsilä and Lundin Energy Norway.

The 1.2MW prototype fuel cell will first be tested at the Sustainable Energy catapult centre in Stord, Norway, after which it will be mounted and tested on board one of shipping company Odfjell’s newest chemical tankers.

Green ammonia and LNG are among the different types of fuel that can be used, the partners said in a statement.

The project aims to develop a technology that can provide emission-free operation over long distances.

According to the project partners, battery solutions are currently not suitable for operating ships that sail long distances, the so-called “deep-sea” fleet.

This fleet consists of more than 50,000 ships globally and thus constitutes a big share of international shipping.

It is difficult to achieve the goal of climate neutrality without finding solutions for this segment.

The unique feature of the new technology is its high energy efficiency and the flexibility that enables substantial emission reductions already from day one with the use of currently available infrastructure for LNG – while also preparing for emission-free operation in line with the development of value chains and infrastructure for sustainable fuels in the years to come, the project partners said in a statement.

“Our tests show a CO2 reduction of as much as 40-45% when using LNG, compared to current solutions,” said Bernt Skeie, CEO of Prototech.

“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.”

“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.”

Erik Hjortland, Vice-President of Technology at Odfjell, added, “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.”

“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.”