At the SNIC conference in Singapore, three partners Alma Clean Power, Odfjell and DNV announced a pioneering project in the development of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system.

The three experts will be showcasing the capabilities of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) under real operating conditions aboard one of Odfjell’s chemical tankers, by the end of 2024.

The project partners intend to place an 80KW natural gas fuelled solid oxide fuel cell container on board one of Odfjell’s chemical tankers, to demonstrate SOFC as an efficient energy converter for deep-sea shipping. In January 2023, Alma Clean Power was awarded DNV’s Approval in Principle for their design of a 1MW ammonia-fuelled SOFC system.

As the partners claim in a joint statement, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) are fuel flexible, and can convert fuels like ammonia, LNG, methanol and hydrogen to electricity with a potentially higher energy efficiency than internal combustion engines. With a maritime solid oxide fuel cells solution, shipping companies will be able to reduce emissions short term and operate emission-free once alternative fuels become available.

“Fuel cells demonstrate a promising potential for scalable use for longer distances,” the partners note.

Harald Fotland, chief executive of Odfjell commented: “We’ve been working structured and actively with energy-efficiency technologies and decarbonization for more than a decade, and this project represents another progressive step in energy efficiency-, fuel flexibility and zero emissions capability innovations.”

Tuva Flagstad-Andersen, regional manager maritime – North Europe, highlighted the fact that “The project provides an ample opportunity to learn from the practical application to further improve our rules and guidelines and use this input to facilitate constructive dialogues with the applicable Flag Authorities.”

“We are very excited about this collaboration with Odfjell and DNV. Odfjell, for continued support through years of development and recognizing this project as a great opportunity for innovation and testing on board their vessel, and DNV for bringing in the broad expertise of a classification society, applying their rule framework and ensuring a thorough risk-based approach to the design, construction, installation and operation onboard the vessel,” added Bernt Skeie, chief executive of Alma Clean Power.