World’s First Battery Tanker “X” on Track for Completion by 2025

Japanese battery startup, PowerX, Inc. has unveiled the detailed design of the first-ever ‘Battery Tanker’ at the ‘Bariship’ International Maritime Exhibition held in Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

The inaugural ship “X” aims for completion by 2025, with domestic and international field testing planned to commence in 2026.

In addition, Tokyo-based PowerX, which is working on the manufacture and development of battery storage products and electric carriers, as well as the development of ultra-rapid charging networks for electric vehicles, will establish a new company called ‘Ocean Power Grid in the third quarter of 2023 to advance the maritime power transmission business utilising battery tankers.

This new company will own, sell, and operate the battery tankers in Japan and abroad. PowerX is seeking business partners worldwide for this new technology and business endeavor.

PowerX has signed a memorandum of understanding and a partnership agreement with Kyushu Electric Power Co., Ltd. and the City of Yokohama to pursue the maritime power transmission concept and achieve carbon-neutral ports.

The first battery tanker is scheduled for domestic and international field testing starting in 2026. This electric propulsion vessel boasts a length of 140 meters and will be equipped with 96 containerized marine batteries, providing a total capacity of 241MWh.

The onboard battery system is based on PowerX’s proprietary module design, featuring reliable lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells that ensure a lifespan of over 6,000 cycles.

Additionally, the battery system is highly scalable, allowing for the installation of additional batteries to create larger electric transport vessels such as Power Ark 1000 or even larger sizes to meet specific mission requirements.

The system includes dedicated gas emission control and fire suppression mechanisms to ensure safety. Real-time monitoring of the battery system, charging controllers, and power conversion systems further enhance safety measures.

Maritime Power Transmission

All batteries will be manufactured in-house in Okayama Prefecture and are scheduled to obtain international ship classification certifications and applicable standards such as DNV and Class NK, undergoing rigorous testing to meet the strictest conditions. Delivery of the batteries is scheduled to commence by mid-2024.

Its onboard battery systems allow battery tankers to store and transport surplus electricity generated from renewable sources. PowerX foresees decommissioned or idle thermal power plants located near ports being retrofitted into charge/discharge points for the Battery Tankers, where the power is transmitted to users via grid connections on the land, enabling further effective use of renewable energy.

Given the current energy density of lithium-ion battery cells, PowerX says the battery tanker is an optimal solution for short-distance maritime power transmission from land to land, complementing existing inter-regional grid transmission lines.

For instance, in Japan, a battery tanker can carry power from regions with high renewable energy supply potential, such as Kyushu and Hokkaido, to high-demand areas of Honshu or for inter-island power transmission.

And as the energy density of batteries improves and their cost decreases, PowerX expects that longer-distance maritime transmission from offshore wind power plants to the land will become feasible.