The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has released a new guide to new and emerging battery technologies, including metal-to-air, redox flow, and solid-state designs.
“As hybrid and all-electric vessels become increasingly mainstream to reduce emissions, improved battery technology will be a requirement to ensure efficient and effective operation of environmentally friendly systems,” said Patrick Ryan, vice-president. – Senior President of ABS Global Engineering and Technology. .
He added that with so many developing technologies relying on a high-power, high-energy source of electricity, it is imperative that new battery technologies be developed and implemented.
The push for decarbonization in the shipping industry has made battery systems very valuable. Reducing fuel consumption through the use of hybrid systems can go a long way in reducing emissions, helping the industry to reach its goal of net zero CO2 by 2050.
Currently, more than 150 ships are operating with batteries on board, and another 100 ships with batteries are under construction. However, today’s batteries largely serve either as a back-up power supply, providing power for short trips, or for ships sailing near populated areas. They are mostly found on ferries, tugs and other small or specialized vessels. The batteries are not yet suitable to provide the power necessary for long trips.
Currently, battery users in industry depend on lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, but their limited energy capacity and safety concerns have prompted investment in R&D for next-generation energy storage options. Larger capacity batteries would allow more efficient hybrid ships and could potentially make fully electric ships more viable.
“These potential alternatives to Li-ion batteries are in different stages of research, but they may hold promise for battery systems to become more practical and more prevalent in marine applications in the future,” the authors wrote. .
The battery alternatives considered in the study all have great potential, but also areas that need to be improved. Metal-air batteries have a very high energy density, but the best technology available has a short service life. Vanadium redox flow batteries are very durable and easy to expand for large applications, but they take up a lot of space and have a high initial cost.
Solid-state lithium batteries – which have a solid electrolyte and no liquid components – are more compact and have a reduced fire risk compared to lithium-ion batteries. However, current technology has a short lifespan and more research will be needed before it can be commercialized.
Top image: Redox flow battery test, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNW file image / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)