Tuesday, March 16, 2021

New Technology Aimed at Supplying Hydrogen as Fuel Source for the Maritime Sector

Joint Venture Aims to Tackle the Problems of Production
Shipping News Feature

BERMUDA – US – WORLDWIDE – The main problem facing those who would see hydrogen as the fuel source of future choice have always been faced with the stumbling block that is the cost in energy production to successfully produce the gas in quantity.

The ‘energy in versus energy out’ conundrum has always faced the industry tasked with supplying economically acceptable hydrogen fuel cells but now advances are being made around the globe, the adoption of hydrogen for UK bus transport being an example.

Now Ardmore Shipping Corporation has formed and invested in a new joint venture with Element 1 Corp. (E1) and Maritime Partners LLC with the three parties establishing an equal share partnership to form ‘e1 Marine’. The new company will have a worldwide remit for the marketing, development, licensing and sale of E1’s hydrogen generation systems for the marine industry.

This includes shipping, refrigerated containers, offshore energy, renewable energy, passenger and leisure, and certain port infrastructure and related applications with Dr Dave Edlund, Co-Founder and CEO of Element 1 Corp commenting:

“Element 1 is delighted to ally with Ardmore and Maritime Partners to deliver commercial solutions for the marine sector that will significantly reduce the carbon intensity as well as other harmful emissions (particulate matter, NOx, and SOx) traditionally associated with burning fossil fuels. This strategic relationship is the direct result of our partners’ vision as well as their commitment to environmental responsibility.

“Whereas fuel cell technology has matured substantially over recent decades, the supply of hydrogen as feedstock to fuel cells has lagged considerably, resulting in significant logistic and economic challenges to the wide-scale deployment of fuel cells. E1’s methanol-to-hydrogen technology offers a broad solution to this challenge. Importantly, Ardmore and Maritime Partners provide unique access to existing markets in international shipping and inland waterways.”

Ardmore’s interest in the joint venture and its investment in E1 will be held by Ardmore Ventures, a newly incorporated holding company for existing and future potential investments related to Ardmore’s Energy Transition Plan. Anthony Gurnee, Ardmore's Chief Executive Officer, observed:

“We are very pleased to establish a strategic relationship with E1 and Maritime Partners to deliver this unique hydrogen delivery system to the marine sector. The establishment of e1 Marine and our investment in E1 advance our Energy Transition Plan, which includes a focus on transition technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the shipping industry and utilising Ardmore’s engineering and marketing capabilities to accelerate their deployment.

“We are excited about the market opportunity for E1’s methanol-to-hydrogen technology. We believe it is safer and cheaper than other alternatives for on board hydrogen delivery and, when using standard methanol, is operationally cost competitive with diesel engines even today, while emitting zero particulates, zero NOx, zero SOx, and 30-50% less carbon than a diesel engine of the same power rating. The E1 system is carbon-neutral when run on renewable methanol, should prove to be very cost competitive with other alternatives, and if desired can be built or retrofitted to run on ammonia.”

Ardmore is headquartered in Bermuda while Element 1 Corp is based in Bend, Oregon, and a developer of advanced hydrogen generation systems used to power fuel cells with broad use in mobile applications and remote locations such as marine, trucking, automotive, off-road vehicles, rail, warehousing, and backup power supply sectors. E1 says its proprietary technology produces hydrogen on demand at the point of consumption, eliminating the logistical challenges and costs inherent in distributing compressed hydrogen.

Maritime Partners LLC, headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a provider of flexible financing solutions and new building support to the maritime industry, with a focus on Jones Act vessels and inland marine transportation. Bick Brooks, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said:

“We are pleased to partner with E1 and Ardmore to drive the adoption of E1’s hydrogen purification technology across the global maritime landscape. We are particularly excited about the applications for this technology within the inland marine industry, as it offers the potential to materially lower carbon emissions in the near-term and provide a clear path to achieving a zero-carbon footprint. Importantly, we believe this technology is currently cost competitive with diesel internal combustion engines.

“Ardmore has an excellent track record of financial discipline. Accordingly, we look forward to aligning with Ardmore beyond the joint venture and to supporting Ardmore’s accretive growth ambitions through our preferred equity investment.”

Photo: Ardmore has a fleet of modern product and chemical tankers.