Currently, conventional lithium-ion batteries have been limited to the automotive industry for decades. Although lithium-ion batteries could power smaller vessels, their applications to large cargo shipping is still a concern. Their practicality, which has been part of their growth and success in the automotive industry, cannot be successfully expanded to the marine industry.
Battery power in the marine industry
Building battery-powered ships present two big problems. The first is that conventional lithium-ion batteries can cause thermal runaway. If a battery releases its chemicals as it fails, it requires very little for one battery to catch fire, with the result being a large explosion. This would be a disastrous scenario regardless of the industry, but it’s particularly catastrophic when at sea with millions of dollars of cargo at risk and limited escape routes for crewmembers. A second major challenge facing electric ships is that conventional lithium-ion battery chemistry simply doesn’t meet the current power requirements to move cargo around the world effectively and efficiently.