energy storage

High-Power Energy Storage Applications Transforming the Marine Industry

In the dynamic and challenging environment of marine operations, the need for reliable and efficient energy storage solutions has never been more imminent. High-power energy storage technologies based on Supercapacitors and SuperBatteries offer unique advantages for a range of marine applications that enhance efficiency, safety, and environmental stewardship. Linda Marie Ormus, Business Development Manager at Skeleton, delves into a few example applications.

Linda Marie Ormus has spent 10+ years at sea offshore racing
Supercapacitors for Active Heave Compensation (AHC)

Active Heave Compensation (AHC) is a critical technology in offshore operations, particularly in adverse weather conditions, where maintaining the precision and safety of marine activities is paramount. AHC systems mitigate the effects of sea motion (such as high waves), playing a key role in various marine operations, including offshore construction and research interventions. 

AHC involves precise control of the vertical position of heavy payloads, such as pumps or drills, held by a crane, especially in challenging sea conditions characterized by high waves and wind. This necessitates periodic movement with short cycles of high peak power consumption and regeneration, which can strain the vessel's power system.

Supercapacitors are uniquely suited for AHC due to their rapid charging and discharging capabilities, providing the high power necessary for controlling the vertical position of heavy payloads. This capability reduces physical strain on cranes, winches and gensets, enhancing safety and operational efficiency. Supercapacitors also offer substantial energy savings, up to 40% in certain cases, alongside improved control mechanisms that adapt seamlessly to the challenging marine environment. 

Supercapacitors are the optimal energy storage technology for AHC applications. Their ability to handle the short duration and periodic cycling of high loads ensures reliable support for this critical operation, contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of offshore activities.

Supercapacitors for Peak Power Shaving

In marine offshore operations, particularly in adverse sea conditions, the intermittent and peaky nature of loads poses a significant challenge. These loads, characterized by multiple high-power peaks, exert considerable strain on onboard generators (accelerating wear and potentially leading to blackouts) while causing high fuel consumption due to low efficiency. However, utilizing supercapacitors presents a robust solution for peak power shaving. By absorbing and releasing power as needed, supercapacitors smooth out the effective load, prolonging the lifespan of generators. By practically implementing a hybrid power system (gensets + supercapacitors) the main source of power can also be considerably reduced in size, which additionally improves fuel efficiency. 

Supercapacitors for Backup Power

Ensuring the uninterrupted operation of critical equipment onboard marine vessels is imperative. Supercapacitors are used in backup power applications, providing a reliable power source during short outages or until normal operations can be restored. 
A lot of critical equipment onboard marine vessels cannot be left without power, even for short periods. Having a backup system is mandatory to ride through short power outages without effects, to safely shut down equipment in a manner that allows for easy restoration of operations subsequently, or simply to ensure power system stability on board.

Skeleton SuperBattery technology is a supercapacictor and battery hybrid
SuperBattery for Engine Gradient Support

While the marine industry is increasingly attracted to the potential of adopting hydrogen and natural gas as alternative fuels to reduce CO2 emissions, widespread adoption has not yet been achieved. One of the challenges lies in the fact that engines running on these fuels are less reactive and require time to adjust to quick changes in load. High-power energy storage solutions can offer that crucial buffer: by providing quick power supply capabilities, SuperBattery technology enables engines to smoothly handle load changes, mitigating the risk of engine instability, load shedding and potential blackouts during this transitional phase. For instance, some engines may require several minutes of ramp-up time to avoid power disruptions. This approach not only enhances operational efficiency but also reduces the overall footprint of the power system and decreases fuel consumption.

SuperBattery for Fuel Cell Hybrid Systems

With fuel cells gaining traction as a clean energy source for marine vessels, the integration of energy storage becomes imperative to manage load variations and start-up requirements effectively. SuperBattery technology plays an important role in enhancing the dynamic response of fuel cells by providing the initial power boost necessary for activation and mitigating the impact of load fluctuations.

This hybrid approach addresses the limitations of fuel cells, which struggle to handle highly varying loads, leading to accelerated wear and potential system trips. Additionally, black start capability is essential for connecting an "off" fuel cell, further highlighting the need for efficient energy storage solutions. SuperBatteries offer the required power needed to heat up the fuel cell and bring it online seamlessly. This integration extends the lifespan of fuel cell systems and improves their performance. While current LTO (Lithium Titanate Oxide)batteries may suffer from fast aging and high costs, SuperBattery technology provides a viable solution to address these challenges and facilitate the widespread adoption of fuel cells in marine applications.

Supercapacitors and SuperBattery for marine transport
SuperBattery for Electric Ferry Fast-Charging

The electrification of short-route ferries presents a promising opportunity for reducing the carbon footprint of the marine industry, particularly in intra-city and island operations where ferry services are crucial. However, the challenge lies in the rapid charging and durability of energy storage systems, which has hindered progress in this area.

Ferries operating on routes with transit times of up to 30 minutes, distances under 10 nautical miles, and a passenger capacity of 50-100 undergo high-frequency navigation and docking cycles. Current energy storage and charging technologies are inadequate for meeting the demands of this fast-paced charging environment, which requires vessels to be fully recharged within a couple of minutes or less. With the capacity to accept several megawatts of power for 60 seconds, fast-charging energy technology is essential for enabling the electrification of ferry operations

While LTO battery technologies have been serving this purpose, their limited lifetime, high cost, high losses, and long lead times present significant drawbacks. SuperBattery addresses these challenges with its impressive 50k cycle life at 10C charging rates and a lower price per kWh compared to LTO systems. 

The integration of supercapacitor and SuperBattery-based high-power energy storage technology into marine operations is not merely an incremental improvement but a transformative shift towards a more sustainable, efficient, and resilient maritime industry. These applications mentioned offer a glimpse into the technologies' potential to address pressing challenges in the marine industry, from enhancing operational efficiency to facilitating the transition to green energy sources. As the energy storage sector continues to innovate and develop its technologies, the promise of a more sustainable and efficient marine industry becomes increasingly tangible.

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