Alma Clean Power makes zero-emission deep-sea shipping a reality
Maritime transport on the high seas represents nearly 90% of the world fleet and therefore has a significant impact on global warming. Until now, a true zero-emission solution for this segment was not available; the batteries don’t last long enough with a size that can fit on board a ship. PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells can achieve zero emissions limited to hydrogen, but this is not readily available along the coasts. It is also difficult to store hydrogen in the quantities needed for long journeys.
Alma Clean Power, based in Bergen, Norway, is introducing high-temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) as a solution to decarbonization challenges in deep-sea shipping. The fuel cells can operate with a variety of fuels, so bunkering will not be a problem in most parts of the world. In addition to zero emissions, sensational levels of efficiency can be achieved, translating into great savings for vessel owners, both in terms of fuel costs and CO2 taxation.
A big concern for many shipowners is deciding which fuel to choose in order to avoid excessive operating expenses and the risk of tying up assets in the future. Multi-fuel options are often preferred, but most multi-fuel solutions today require fossil fuels as pilot fuels, making zero emissions unviable. The Alma fuel cell can run on a variety of fuels such as LNG, ammonia, methanol, syngas, LOHC and hydrogen with low or zero emissions.
The SOFC system comes in the form of modules producing 0.5 to 2 MW per unit depending on the needs of the project. The modular, compact and scalable design makes fuel cells suitable for any type of vessel or offshore installation. And the technology has none of the limitations of existing power solutions:
It can switch seamlessly between conventional and synthetic fuels
Design is scalable with capacities up to 300 MW and beyond
It delivers an electrical efficiency greater than 60% + heat recovery
It operates quietly without vibration
There are no issue slips
“Our philosophy is that shipowners just have to choose the engine and not worry about the type of fuel. Our fuel cell engine can handle almost any type of fuel, there will always be one that is economically and geographically accessible,” says Torleif Stokke, Commercial Director of Alma Clean Power.
The company proposes an operational strategy that takes into account the current uncertainties related to the availability and prices of fuels, in particular for green fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia.
“Until we have the infrastructure and electricity supply to produce green fuels, we need to make the most of the cleanest fossil fuel, which is natural gas,” continues Torleif Stokke.
The Alma fuel cell’s impressive efficiency levels automatically reduce emissions as less fuel is consumed for the same trip. On the other hand, the low fuel consumption will have a significant positive impact on CO2 taxes. If a carbon capture system is in place, CO2 from Alma’s fuel cell is emitted in a concentrated form where most of the emissions are CO2. Such a system makes CO2 capture much easier and more efficient.
“The annual fuel cost savings for a typical freighter will be significant compared to using conventional ICEs, and the CO2 tax savings add to this, which has a significant positive impact on the bottom line. company,” continues Torleif.
Huge opportunities for offshore cost and emissions reduction
Alma has also offered to replace inefficient offshore gas turbines with SOFCs, as an alternative to the current electrical wiring to land in Norway. This has the potential to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector by up to 90% when carbon capture is included. Many platforms already have injection systems, which makes CO2 storage relatively easy to implement. The cost-benefit ratio with increased efficiency from 20-35% to >60% is immense, and the level of reduction in CO2 emissions and taxes is commensurate.
The technology has been developed through over 30 years of research and development. The company has several ongoing pilot projects with a range of partners for the implementation of fuel cells powered by LNG and ammonia on commercial ships, supported by EU Horizon 2020, Enova and Innovation Norway. Alma’s fuel cells will be marketed from 2026.
To learn more about Alma’s solutions, the company will be at the Maritime Cleantech booth in hall B7 på booth 102 during SMM. Alma Clean Power will hold a presentation at noon on Tuesday September 6th.
Top photo: ShipFC – Green Ammonia Energy System on board Viking Energy
This article is sponsored by Alma Clean Power. For more information, visit the company on line.
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.