S. Korea launches project to develop universal test platform for ship propulsion systems

By Lim Chang-won Posted : April 28, 2021, 15:00 Updated : April 28, 2021, 15:00

[Courtesy of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries]

SEOUL -- As part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas and create an eco-friendly ship industry ecosystem, South Korea will develop a universal platform by 2025 that can test and demonstrate various propulsion systems such as electricity and hydrogen with one ship. A test and research center will be built in the southwestern port of Mokpo.

The test platform can dramatically reduce costs because only one demonstration vessel needs to be built, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. Along with a test platform, research institutes will push for the development of a propulsion system using a mixed fuel of liquefied natural gas and ammonia. Ammonia, which is a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen, has been proposed as a potential zero carbon marine fuel.

Koo Do-hyung, a ministry official responsible for maritime development, said the project would greatly improve conditions for the development of eco-friendly ship technologies. "We will do our best to promote the development of eco-friendly ship technology in South Korea and contribute to creating a carbon-neutral society," he said in a statement on April 28.

The project, led by the state-run Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering (KRISO) and the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM), involves Korea Register (KR), university research teams and private companies such as Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Ammonia has been proposed as a potential zero carbon marine fuel. However, ammonia is currently mainly produced from fossil fuel-based hydrogen while production processes for renewable ammonia are still under development. Ammonia needs pilot fuel for combustion.

In response to tightened international regulations, South Korean shipbuilders work hard to develop new technologies and secure a competitive edge in eco-friendly vessels. An ammonia-powered Aframax oil tanker that is under development by Samsung Heavy Industries has acquired basic certification from Lloyd's Register, a London-based maritime classification society.

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