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Ammonia solid oxide fuel cell electric ship


Technology Description

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells can be designed to be fuelled with ammonia.
They operate at very high temperature (500-1000 °C).
This fuel cell has low sensitivity to impurities, it has a high cost (compared to other fuel cell technologies for maritime applications), can have medium size and has a moderate lifetime. Typical efficiency is 60% and this can be optimised to 85% with heat recovery,
Ammonia is very toxic and thus specific design and operation measures need to be implemented: confinement of propulsion system, tank connection spaces and fuel preparation room; double piping; leak detection; boil-off gas management system; ventilation of confinement areas; corrosion-resistant materials; layout protecting tanks in case of collision or loading/unloading accidents; special procedures and protective equipment for maintenance personnel.

Relevance for Net Zero

Fuel cells have better energy efficiency than internal combustion maritime engines and do not emit local air pollutants.
Ammonia is seen to be one of the most promising synthetic fuels, as it is easier to store than hydrogen. It benefits from an already existing infrastructure and distribution network (due to its industrial use, mainly for fertiliser synthesis) - which would need scaling up in the case of broad application in shipping.
Their limited power density is challenging for long-distance routes, making this technology more suited to short- and medium-distance vessels.

Key Countries

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