Five minutes with Orcelle Award winner 2021 Element Resources
We catch up with Steven Meheen, chief executive at Element Resources to find out more about the company’s award-winning emissions free HyPower concept and how it can help contribute towards more sustainable shipping.
Congratulations on winning the Orcelle Award! What inspired your idea?
The inspiration came from a discussion on cold ironing – providing vessels with shoreside power so they can turn off their engines while at berth. While this is a greener solution compared to running diesel powered auxiliary generators, power shortages and lack of infrastructure mean simply plugging into the national power grid isn’t always an option. We wanted to create a 100% renewable at berth power system that offered a greater degree of deployment flexibility so that ports and vessel operators have a way to avoid grid power infrastructure and availability issues. Physically bringing power cables from the nearest grid connection point to the berth can be costly – plus vessels at berth can require huge amounts of power, that may not even be available from the grid in the first place.
How does your technology work and how can it be used in the shipping industry?
We stack hydrogen fuel cells of about 150Kw capacity in a container until we have a total capacity of about 2Mw. The hydrogen powered fuel cells follow the demand of the consumer, such that only those fuel cells needed to satisfy demand are ‘switched on’. We then set the container near the vessel at berth, and connect it via a power cable, meaning the HyPower unit supplies electricity for the vessel in lieu of its conventionally fuelled auxiliary engines. Beside the HyPower ‘Box’ we also supply a trailer of hydrogen for use in the HyPower unit, which can ‘hot swap’ hydrogen supplies.
What potential does your technology have to benefit the marine environment?
By using emissions-free hydrogen fuel cells to create the electricity needed, the HyPower solution improves local air quality. The concept also minimises or eliminates the need for ports to retrofit berths for cold ironing, therefore creating an economical solution to shore power.
What does winning the Orcelle Award mean to you and your company?
It’s truly an honour to win the Orcelle Award since its recognition in the maritime industry is outstanding. We’re looking forward to a long relationship with Wallenius Wilhelmsen through the energy transition.
What will you do with the $100,000 prize money?
We’re using the Orcelle Award funds to complete the detailed production design and engineering for the HyPower system, with the aim to have a market-ready product available in late 2022.