Marine SOFC with significant Net Zero & cost benefits

Expleo develops a closed-loop, e-methanol SOFC fuel cell solution with significant reductions in GHG and operational costs.

Expleo develops a breakthrough closed-loop, e-methanol SOFC fuel cell solution for global shipping with significant reductions in GHG and operational costs.


Expleo, the global engineering, technology, and consultancy service provider has developed an innovative closed-loop fuel solution. Particularly, incorporating solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. Addressing global shipping and delivering a 92% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe). Moreover, providing OPEX savings of £1.4m a year, per vessel.

The solution was defined during Expleo’s feasibility study into clean power propulsion systems, funded through the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Clean Marine Demonstration Competition (CMDC) and is detailed in the new white paper ‘Clean Green Marine – a breakthrough for global shipping.

To meet the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) timeline for carbon emission reduction, many of the world’s 100,000 vessels will need to convert to low-carbon fuel by 2035. Therefore, making the development of a viable retrofit and new build system a high priority.

Expleo modeled its ‘system-of-systems’ solution on the multi-tasking Bibby Wavemaster 1, a vessel 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. 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 synthesise 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.”

Jonathan Taylor, VP of Marine, Expleo

The financial, logistical, and environmental benefits of this solution are game-changing.

“This circular solution allows 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.”

Jonathan Taylor, VP of Marine, Expleo

“This could revolutionise a sizeable portion of the global fleet, helping them to retrofit in line with targets for Net Zero. And, as a replacement for diesel generators, it can easily be incorporated into new build designs offering up to 100% reduction in GHGe.

Jeff Hoyle, EVP Aero Space and Defence, Expleo

Expleo’s innovation also delivers significant operational savings, with the study showing OPEX reductions of £1.4m a year, per ship and a projected payback period of around four years on a retrofit, for the vessel used in the model.

The solution, developed for sharing with the open market, supports the DfT’s goal to commercialize and accelerate the decarbonization of the maritime sector. Expleo is now working with several partners to explore the scalability of this novel system.

“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. It is a ‘system-of-systems’ and offers the world’s shipowners a truly scalable solution.”

Jonathan Taylor, VP of Marine, Expleo
About Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition

The Expleo retrofit solution for short sea shipping is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC). Note that, it launched in March 2021, funded by the Department for Transport, and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK. As part of the CMDC, the Department allocated more than £23m to 55 projects supported by 208 organizations.

The CMDC was announced as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan to position the UK at the forefront of clean maritime technologies and reduce emissions from the sector. The CMDC is supporting the research, design, and development of zero-emission vessel and infrastructure solutions. Hence, enable clean technologies to commercialize and accelerate the decarbonization of the maritime sector.

Source: expleo

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