Gigantic floating fossil fuel gas station now runs on electricity


Moveable explores the future of transport, infrastructure, energy and cities.

The world’s first electric tanker, named asahi, will enter service in Japan later this month. Tankers, of course, are ships that transport fossil fuels. And this particular tanker will be used for bunkering or filling the tanks of larger ships in or near ports. In other words, the Asahi will soon become the first electric vehicle in the world to deliver 338,000 gallons of fossil fuel on demand.

The boat, which is owned by Asahi Tanker, is powered by a 3,480 kWh battery, according to Reuters, who notes that this equates to “about 100 batteries for a typical EV”, a comparison that may well be accurate for small Japanese vehicles, but unfortunately for the US market where popular EVs like the Model Y have batteries in the 75 kWh range (meaning it’s more like 50 Tesla batteries). The tanker has a range of around 100 kilometers (62 miles) and a top speed of 10 knots. It will recharge at a dock operated by Tokyo Electric Power in Kawasaki, where it will take about 10 hours to chargelikely using a system similar to ultra-fast DC fast chargers that can charge electric vehicles to a maximum output of 350kw.

“The ship’s central energy system is fully electrified to achieve zero CO2, nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions,” said Makoto Sawada, EV Project Team Leader at Asahi Tanker, was quoted by Reuters as told.

It’s an inspiring achievement for a boat whose job it is to literally enable the use and burning of fossil fuels in massive quantities. This particular tanker has loading capacity of 1,280 cubic meters, or 338,000 gallons, which is about as small as bunker ships tend to be. The largest container ships carry 4.5 million gallons of fuelbut the smaller ones that can pass through the Panama Canal typically hold between 1.5 and 3.5 million gallons.

Cleaning up the shipping industry is one of the toughest challenges the transportation industry will face in the coming decades, as they burn huge amounts of fossil fuels and there is no promising alternative on the horizon. As the Asahi illustrates, powering a freighter with a battery is currently not possible because the battery would have to be too big. And efforts to make container ships “carbon neutral” with different fuel mixes are a little more than greenwashing. The Asahi is not a technological breakthrough in cargo sustainability, but a niche application of existing technology for a boat that travels very short distances to do a specific job.

Of course, naysayers might scoff at the idea that propelling a ship that literally enables the massive burning of fossil fuels with electricity is at best a symbolic achievement and the embodiment of all that is wrong with capitalism. environmental at its worst, but the Asahi don’t know or care about these debates. It’s a big battery-powered boat doing its part to save the planet, loading 338,000 gallons of fossil fuel at a time.


Comments are closed.