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Monday, January 18, 2021 

Alfa Laval, DTU Energy, Haldor Topsoe, Svitzer and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping are entering into a joint project to accelerate the development of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, funded by a grant from Danish EUDP (Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme), in support of the industry's decarbonisation aims.

The project, SOFC4Maritime, will target optimal utilisation of future green fuels via application of SOFCs for power production on ships. With fuels such as ammonia, hydrogen or bio-methane, SOFCs hold promise as a replacement for fossil fuels. 

By electrochemically converting fuel into electricity, SOFCs can potentially produce power with higher efficiency than internal combustion engines running on the same fuel – with negligible emissions or particulates. Ammonia-based SOFCs are considered especially attractive, since ammonia can be produced at large scale using renewable electricity and no biomass resource. The research will therefore have ammonia-based SOFCs as its starting point.

Alfa Laval will head the development initiative. Haldor Topsoe will provide the underlying SOFC stack technology, while DTU Energy will support with system layout and component testing. Svitzer will bring a shipowner perspective and the Mærsk McKinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping will ensure a broad industry overview, end-to-end analysis of various energy pathways and a detailed techno-economic analysis.

 Sameer Kalra, President, Alfa Laval Marine Division, said: “Addressing shipping’s environmental challenges – and climate change in particular – will require a diverse range of strong technologies. By partnering with fellow marine industry experts, we can investigate the possibilities and bring them to fruition in time to make a difference.”

"We are proud to contribute with our competences within SOFC technology and ammonia as a marine fuel in order to reduce carbon emissions from shipping. This is an urgent goal in combatting climate change," said  Kim Grøn Knudsen, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Haldor Topsoe

“Our know-how in the performance and testing of SOFC technology and components will be utilised well in this important project aimed at a carbon-free shipping industry,” said Søren Linderoth, Head of Department, DTU Energy

Bo Cerup-Simonsen, CEO, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, said: "We are eager to pursue this project, which will provide essential information and enhance the feasibility of future pathways to zero carbon shipping based on SOFCs."

Global shipping accounts for around 3% of global carbon emissions, a share that is likely to increase as other industries tackle climate emissions in the coming decades.

Achieving the long-term target of decarbonisation requires new fuel types and systemic change within the industry. Shipping is globally regulated, which provides an opportunity to secure broad-based adoption of new technology and fuels. However, new legislation will be needed to enable the transition.

To accelerate the development of viable technologies, a coordinated effort within applied research is needed across the entire supply chain. Industry leaders play a critical role in ensuring that laboratory research is successfully matured to scalable solutions that match shipping needs.

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