Solid oxide fuel cell developments proliferate

Shipping is moving inexorably closer to major fuel cell breakthroughs. Class society ABS has just granted approval in principle (AIP) to solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology developed by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), one of South Korea’s top shipyards.

Granting of AIP follows two joint development projects between ABS and DSME, the latest to develop SOFC technology to replace at least one of three diesel generators typically onboard a VLCC.

ABS is now working with DSME on future research and development areas to be carried out during detailed design and testing of the SOFC technology.

“Fuel cells are an important technology in the development of next generation marine propulsion systems and can make a significant contribution to the industry’s decarbonization ambitions,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS senior vice president.

Dr Dong-kyu Choi, DSME executive vice president, said: “We have completed the conceptual design, including how to effectively deploy fuel cell systems in a limited space and utilise them safely through joint development projects with ABS, and these joint research results will serve as a cornerstone for future design and test evaluation.”

SOFC technology is making shipping headlines more and more. Splash reported earlier this week on a Scandinavian project to develop the technology. The European group includes Alfa Laval, DTU Energy, Haldor Topsoe, Svitzer and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

Last June, Bloom Energy and Samsung Heavy Industries, another Korean shipbuilding heavyweight, signed a joint development agreement (JDA) to design and develop fuel cell-powered ships.

Haeki Jang, vice president of shipbuilding and drilling sales engineering at the Korean yard, commented at the time: “Our goal is to replace all existing main engines and generator engines with these highly efficient solid oxide fuel cells to align with the International Maritime Organization’s 2030 and 2050 environmental targets.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. The developments of solid oxide fuel cells for ships is very interesting – thank you for the article.

    If LNG is used for fuel then an important amount of CO2 is produced. To be zero carbon, the fuel cell should use H2 produced from water and hydro electricity without any carbon in the production cycle.

    1. Hydrogen from water is called green hydrogen. Hydrogen from natural gas is called gray hydrogen. Hydrogen from natural gas, with the CO2 captured and stored is called blue hydrogen. 🤗👍

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