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KSOE to Build Next-Generation Electrically Powered Ships with Explosion-Free Battery

Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE), the intermediate holding company for Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Group's shipbuilding operations, is set to propel the advancement of ships running on electricity, using a next-generation marine battery without the risk of explosion or fire. 

KSOE announced that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Standard Energy on January 27, which developed the world’s first vanadium-ion battery (VIB), on the development of an ESS (energy storage system) solution for next-generation ships based on VIBs. 

The signing ceremony was attended by key stakeholders from the two parties, including Kim Sungjoon, Head of KSOE’s Advanced Research Center, and Kim Boo-ki, CEO of Standard Energy. 

The MoU represents the two companies’ commitment to mutual cooperation to develop and commercialize a highly stable VIB-based ESS solution for ships; demonstrate small-sized ships at sea; get the new ESS solution certified by a classification society; and develop next-generation ships such as electrically powered ships and power transfer vessels. 

KSOE will take chare of designing an ESS solution optimized for ships, and Standard Energy will manufacture and supply VIBs. 

A VIB, which contains an electrolyte made from a mixture of water and ground vanadium, is fundamentally free from the risk of explosion or fire. It also features minimal heat production even in the event of overcharge or shocks. 

Further, its output power and lifespan are nearly twice and more than four times as high as those of a lithium-ion battery. It is almost free from aging-induced degradation over repeated charge and discharge cycles, showing high stability and excellent durability. 

Currently, lithium-ion batteries are generally used in ESS-equipped vessels, such as electric and hybrid ships. While a lithium-ion battery has the ability to achieve a compact size even in a large capacity, it can be easily exposed to explosion and fire accidents due to the highly volatile electrolyte it contains. 

In cooperation with Standard Energy, KSOE will develop a megawatt-class VIB-based ESS solution for ships to be demonstrated at sea, with a view to getting the solution certified within the first half of 2023. Further, it aims to complete the basic designs of a next-generation electrically powered ship and power transfer vessel. 

KSOE aims to gain a strong foothold in the rapidly growing market for electric ships by developing a highly stable marine ESS. According to global researcher IDTechEx, the global market for electric and hybrid vessels is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 26% by 2029 to reach a market size of approximately USD 12 billion. 

“The ESS for ships that we are currently working on will be suitable for electric and hybrid vessels as well as general merchant ships as it will be free of the risk of explosion or fire,” said an official of KSOE. “Also, we will accelerate efforts to develop next-generation ships, such as power transfer vessels, which are expected to increase in demand along with the rapidly growing global offshore wind power market.”