The three major Korean shipbuilders are making all-out efforts to develop technology for eco-friendly and smart ships.
Demand for eco-friendly ships is forecast to balloon as the International Maritime Organization's strong greenhouse gas emissions regulations are to go into effect next year.
The three shipbuilders are intensively carrying out research and development on smart ships based on new technologies such as the internet of things (IoT).
Samsung Heavy Industries announced on Sept. 26, that it has obtained a basic approval for a fuel cell-powered Aframax crude oil carrier from Norwegian-German ship classification company DNV GL.
A basic approval is a procedure to verify the technical integrity of a ship's basic design. By receiving an official certificate for the vessel and technology, Samsung Heavy Industries has become able to start order-taking activities for fuel cell-powered tankers on a full scale.
Fuel cell-powered vessels are eco-friendly vessels that increase power generation efficiency and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing current generator engines with solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) engines running on liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Replacing a 3 MW generator engine of an Aframax crude oil carrier with a fuel cell engine can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 45 percent. This can produce the same effect as removing greenhouse gas emissions from about 10,000 cars powered by internal combustion engines.
Samsung Heavy Industries has improved system stability through joint research with Bloom Energy that commercialized SOFCs for the first time and developed core processes such as a fuel supply system and a power control system for fuel cells. SOFCs make it possible to use not only LNG but also hydrogen as fuel. Shipbuilding experts say that Samsung Heavy Industries secured foundational technology for building a hydrogen fuel cell-powered ship without any greenhouse gas emissions.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Group has begun to localize materials for a fuel tank for an LNG-powered ship in cooperation with POSCO. The shipbuilder announced on Sept. 26 that POSCO's 9 percent nickel steel was applied to a fuel tank for a 180,000-ton LNG-powered vessel, leading to the localization of core materials for cryogenic tanks and stabilizing the supply of cryogenic tanks. An LNG-fueled bulk carrier loaded with this kind of LNG fuel tank will be delivered to client H-Line Shipping in November 2020.
So far, Hyundai Heavy Industries Group has received 9 percent nickel steel from overseas steelmakers, but will gradually increase the localization rate of core materials starting with this contract with POSCO. Nine percent nickel steel is a material that can maintain excellent strength and impact toughness even in a cryogenic environment (-163 degrees Celsius).
Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) teamed up with Hyundai Merchant Marine, Korea's only oceangoing shipping company, to develop smart ship-related technology. On the same day, the two companies signed a joint smart ship research agreement. Under the agreement, they will push forward with cooperative activities by jointly zooming in on research on the internet of things (IoT)-based real-time service and land platforms for fleet operation, the development of a ship material warehouse automation system and economic operation solutions.
Meanwhile, in the first eight months of this year, global ship orders added up to 13.3 million standard cargo equivalent ton (CGTs), down 43 percent from last year's 22.31 million CGTs, Clarkson Research said. "The only way to survive the current global order drought is to develop and secure unrivaled technology," said an official of the shipbuilding industry.