BOB Technology Enables New Business Mode

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  • Standardised containerised battery rooms will enable OSV owners to swap systems and speed retrofits when electrification is needed, says a leading energy storage system CEO.
  • Introduced in 2021, BOB is a containerised, modular battery room, complete with battery, battery monitoring system (BMS), HVAC, thermal runaway exhaust, smoke detection system and either water mist or inert gas firefighting systems. 
  •  Orca Energy is built with Single-Cell Passive Thermal Runaway protection and is type-approved.

Corvus Energy chief executive Geir Bjørkeli discusses how the company’s containerised battery room concept will enable OSV owners to swap out the system on ‘BOB-ready’ vessels. As stated in a recent report by Riviera.

About standardised containerised battery rooms

Standardised containerised battery rooms will enable OSV owners to swap systems and speed retrofits when electrification is needed, says a leading energy storage system CEO.

“Standardisation of these battery containers will enable new business models,” Corvus Energy chief executive Geir Bjørkeli tells OSJ during an exclusive podcast interview. “You will be able to lease them or rent them because they are standardized,” he says. While bespoke battery configurations are not easy to swap out, the company’s battery-on-board (BOB) concept is about making vessel electrification and hybridisation easier. He points out that an OSV can be made “BOB ready” to allow a containerised battery room to be fitted quickly for any charterer that might require such technology. 

“But I strongly believe that not many containers will come off because the benefit of using batteries is so big,” says Mr Bjørkeli. A traditional retrofit of an OSV, he explains, usually involves the addition of a container or deckhouse that is lifted onto the mezzanine deck. He says in theory, those containers can be taken off when they are not needed. “But when you see the benefit of using batteries – reducing fuel consumption from 10% to 40%, depending on operating profile – those containers will never come off.”

About BOB

Introduced in 2021, BOB is a containerised, modular battery room, complete with battery, battery monitoring system (BMS), HVAC, thermal runaway exhaust, smoke detection system and either water mist or inert gas firefighting systems. The idea behind BOB is to minimise the time to retrofit, says Mr Bjørkeli. BOB is designed to be a ‘plug-and-play battery room’, simplifying integration into any system integrator’s power management system onboard a ship. BOB, which comes in 10-ft and 20-ft ISO high cube container sizes, is about safety, too, as it is class-approved by ABS, BV, DNV and RINA, with type approval by DNV.

The first Corvus BOB system incorporates the Corvus Orca ESS, which is suitable for a wide range of vessels, including OSVs, cruise and ferries, merchant vessels, workboats and fishing vessels. Orca Energy is built with Single-Cell Passive Thermal Runaway protection and is type-approved.

Mr Bjørkeli says BOB came in response to “demand from the market for a more efficient retrofitting.”

Towards standardisation

Corvus is collaborating with other members of the Maritime Battery Forum to standardise containerised maritime battery systems to facilitate the wider adoption of energy storage systems on ships.

Participants in the ‘Battery Container Standardization Joint Industry Project’ want to define guidelines for standardised interfaces for both swappable and fixed battery containers.

Corvus is working with Maritime Battery Forum members VARD, Spear Power Systems, Kongsberg Maritime, Wärtsilä, and ABS in the JIP.

These guidelines will be based on the work performed in the EU-funded Current Direct project, where the interfaces between battery containers and ships are identified, including the availability of standards for each interface. The guidelines will be an endorsement of the results from Current Direct and are expected to be ready by June 2022.

The next step will be to focus on the endorsement of a standardised certification methodology for maritime battery containers, as defined in the Current Direct project, which should be in place by the end of 2022.

Such standardisation will accelerate a surge in maritime battery installations that is already underway. The number of vessels fitted with batteries in the global fleet has more than doubled since 2018, with 409 vessels in operation and another 182 under construction or refit, according to DNV’s Alternative Fuels Insight platform. The global maritime battery market is expected to grow to US$10Bn by 2030. There are 63 OSVs in operation fitted with batteries. This year alone could see that total double, with between 50 and 60 OSVs forecasted to be retrofit with batteries.

Hydrogen-fuel partnership

Established in Vancouver in 2009, the Canadian-Norwegian company has grown to be the leading provider of maritime battery and fuel-cell systems over the last decade. “We design and produce unique battery modules for the maritime industry, and then build the battery systems based on those modules,” says Mr Bjørkeli.

Corvus is taking this same approach in the development of its maritime hydrogen fuel-cell systems. “We look for fuel cells that are ‘mass produced’ — if you can use that phrase — in automotive and do the marine packaging and control systems.” It struck a technology agreement in 2020 with Toyota, one of the world’s largest producers of fuel cells.

“Toyota is a perfect partner,” says Mr Bjørkeli, because no one questions their quality or capability to ramp up. He says Corvus will take Toyota’s core fuel-cell technology, being used in its Toyota Mirai, and design an enclosure and fuel system that is safe for maritime use.

Plans call for Corvus to produce maritime-certified fuel cells at its automated battery production facility in Bergen, Norway.

Corvus is collaborating with Equinor, Norled and Wilhelmsen, LMG Marin, the NCE Maritime CleanTech cluster and the R&D institution of the University of South-Eastern Norway to develop and produce modularised and cost-effective Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel-cell systems.

Innovation Norway is backing the effort, with €5.2M (US$5.7M) in funding.

“We should be able to have pilots in the market in 2023, and full-scale production in 2024,” says Mr Bjørkeli. “We see a reasonable near-future solution for our zero-emission, PSV or hydrogen hybrid ferries for longer durations.”

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Source: Riviera

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