Flow battery technology gets boost from MarRI-UK funding


A new project called Flo-Mar has obtained funding from MarRI-UK’s Clean Maritime Call to assess the feasibility of using flow batteries in vessels to enable zero-emission propulsion and provide auxiliary power.

A flow battery is a rechargeable battery in which electrolyte flows through one or more electrochemical cells from one or more tanks. The energy storage capacity can be increased by increasing the quantity of electrolyte stored in the tanks.

These batteries have the potential to offer much faster charging in port, be cost-effective, and offer high-capacity storage. However, they have not yet been configured for marine applications. The Flo-Mar project will select the vessel types and operating situations most suitable for flow batteries and will develop an outline vessel design to validate the advantages offered by this battery type.

Four UK organizations, naval architects Houlder, energy storage specialist Swanbarton, Lloyd’s Register, and Marine South East, a marine consortium will work together on the project to find ways to optimize the design of electric and hybrid ships to accommodate flow batteries. The companies will also assess the advantages this technology offers in comparison with existing lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel-cells.

Flo-Mar said preliminary investigations suggest that flow batteries are well suited to a variety of vessels including domestic passenger vessels and offer a possible solution for shore-power systems in ports.

Houlder director for ship design & engineering David Wing said: “Flow batteries offer an exciting opportunity to increase the electrification of shipping into a wider range of operations and we look forward to using our practical ship design experience to develop marine flow batteries through feasibility and testing into a commercially viable operational system.”

Lloyd’s Register team lead of electrical and instrumentation, Marine & Offshore Peter Huntley-Hawkins said his company’s AiP methodology will help in benchmarking the technology “for a single vessel design against current regulatory requirements and identify any potential hazards in the design and operations of this emerging technology.”

MarRI-UK is an industry-led collective involving companies and universities that tackle innovation and technology challenges facing the industry. MarRI-UK are administering the Clean Maritime Call funding on behalf of the Department for Transport.

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