A launching ceremony will be held on March 4 at a port in the southwestern city of Mokpo, which has been selected for a five-year government project that began in 2020 to develop electric propulsion ships with the state-funded Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering (KRISO), private companies, research institutes, and university teams.
After a demonstration period to verify its operational performance at sea, the ship, which is 49 meters long and can carry 125 passengers and 20 vehicles, is to operate on coastal sea routes between Mokpo and nearby islands.
Detailed information such as the structure of the vessel's power system was not disclosed. The propeller shaft of electric propulsion ships is connected to propulsion motors. Normally electrical propulsion is used in small vessels but shipping companies are adopting the system for large vessels to comply with tightened greenhouse gas regulations.
Demands for eco-friendly ships and maritime energy storage systems (ESS) are growing. ESS is a power storage system that consists of batteries or specially designed battery packs. An electric propulsion ship equipped with an energy storage system drives a propulsion motor with power stored in batteries or supplied from a generator.
In July 2021, South Korea's Hyundai auto group teamed up with Hyundai Global Service, an engineering service wing of South Korea's Hyundai shipbuilding group, and Korean Register (KR), a maritime classification society, to commercialize a fuel cell electric propulsion system for ships. The auto group has tried to expand the application of its automotive fuel cell technology to other areas such as sea vessels, railways and power generation.
Four months later, Hanwha Defense, a defense contractor affiliated with South Korea's Hanwha Group, teamed up with the Korea Electrical Research Institute (KERI) to develop a high-power, high-safety battery system for ships and apply all-solid-state batteries to electric propulsion ships.
All-solid-state batteries are seen as a next-generation power source for electric vehicles as solid electrolytes are nonflammable and more stable. KERI has transferred technology to a domestic company for the mass production of sulfide-based solid electrolytes for all-solid-state batteries at low prices.
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