The shipping industry has yet to settle on a future low- or zero-carbon fuel of choice. The American Bureau of Shipping highlights three main fuel pathways for shipping decarbonization. The light pathway of gaseous fuels starts with LNG and eventually transitions to hydrogen, the heavy pathway starts with LPG and evolves into ammonia, and the liquid pathway uses bio-based fuels and evolves into synthetic fuels. However, adoption of any of these pathways will require innovation around the power conversion system – ranging from slight modifications of existing engines to entirely new system designs. While fuel cells are attractive due to high fuel-to-power efficiencies, the technology still requires significant development to address relatively short stack lifetimes. Replacing fossil fuels in combustion engines is a shorter-term strategy, but without a clear future fuel, major shipbuilding and engine players are exploring multiple fuels and technologies.
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