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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Ambitions to reduce shipping emissions charged by future technology research

Published: 22 March 2021
Benjamin Craig, PHD researcher

New research into the viability of battery technologies for maritime operations informs the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as part of their on-going assessment of future technologies.

Benjamin Craig, a PhD researcher in Energy Storage and Applications at the University of Southampton (UoS) and Chartered Engineer with the IMechE, has recently completed a three-month placement with the MCA’s Maritime Future Technology Team, as part of growing collaborations between the MCA and the University of Southampton.

During his placement he prepared a comprehensive review of the use of high-density batteries and hybrid drive systems in the maritime sector. Benjamin’s report, 'The Future of Batteries in the Marine Sector: What Lies Beyond the Horizon?’ , investigated the viability of different battery technologies as well as providing insights into the Government’s ambitions to reduce emissions from shipping.

The report also considers technical limitations as well as environmental and financial costs of the move towards the widespread uptake of battery technology across the UK Flagged fleet.

In consultation with senior Southampton academics Dr Richard Wills and Prof Andrew Cruden of the University’s Energy Technologies Research Group, Benjamin assessed existing and likely future technologies pertaining to high-density batteries applicable to the maritime industry and identified standards and regulations from other sectors that could be applied to the marine sector.

The MCA will use this research to drive forward its innovation and offer various stakeholders in the maritime sector guidance on how best to adopt these new technological developments.

Benjamin said:

“It is deeply fulfilling to see my research being used by the MCA to guide its work in future technologies. For me, the evidence points towards batteries being here to stay and dominance of solid-state lithium continuing for at least the next two decades. As well as packing more energy for a given space and weight, solid-state technology should be much safer than today’s batteries – ideal for big boats.

We need further investigations into the barriers that the shipping industry faces in implementing these promising low carbon clean technologies, so we can ensure their safety, efficacy and to reduced barriers to their adoption.”

Ben continues to work with the MCA in a part-time capacity whilst completing his PhD.

Ashley Stehr, Assistant Director Maritime Future Technologies, said:

“Over the next few years, the UK will continue to actively drive the transition to zero emission shipping. A comprehensive review like this helps to understand and highlight how best we go about achieving this. We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of shipping and recognise the need to carry out research into the viable environmentally-friendly technologies.”

Dr Wassim Dbouk, Marine and Maritime Policy Research Fellow at the UoS, said: “The University’s Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute is very proud to host a community of prominent academics and early career researchers who are perfectly placed to continue to inform the MCA’s aim to lead in implementing a transition towards the sustainability of global shipping.”

Download Ben's report: 'The Future of Batteries in the Marine Sector: What Lies Beyond the Horizon?'

Read Ben’s blog.

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