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Samsung Heavy’s fuel cell tanker gets a nod

Sept 27,2019
Jung Jin-taek, executive vice president of Samsung Heavy Industries’ engineering and procurement operations, left, and Lee Hwa-lyoung, regional business development manager of DNV GL, shake hands after Samsung Heavy obtains approval in principle for its fuel cell-powered crude oil tanker last week. [SAMSUNG HEAVY INDUSTRIES]
Samsung Heavy Industries has developed the world’s first Aframax crude oil tanker powered by fuel cells in response to tightening emissions regulations in the marine industry.

DNV GL, a Norway-based classification society, approved in principle Samsung Heavy’s fuel cell-powered oil tanker, the Korean shipbuilder said Thursday.

An approval in principle is part of a process of verification of technological features of basic marine designs. With it, a shipbuilder can start taking orders for a ship.

The shipbuilder replaced oil-based power generators with solid oxide fuel cells using liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel on its Aframax oil tankers. Aframax refers to mid-sized crude tankers with dead weight tonnage ranging between 80,000 and 120,000.

By replacing traditional 3 megawatt oil-based generator engines, greenhouse gas emissions decrease by more than 45 percent, the company said.

A fuel cell, according to Samsung Heavy, transforms energy generated through chemical reactions of fuel into electric energy. It is different from batteries that store and use electricity.

Fuel cell technology for ships was developed in cooperation with U.S.-based Bloom Energy, which commercialized solid oxide fuel cells, according to Samsung Heavy.

The shipbuilder said solid oxide fuel cells can also use hydrogen as fuel in addition to LNG. It plans to develop the technology to build zero-emission hydrogen vessels in the future.

“As regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions take effect, the introduction of fuel cells into vessels is inevitable,” said Kim Kyung-hee, vice president of Samsung Heavy.

Since 2008, the International Maritime Organization has demanded the shipbuilding industry reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vessels.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]