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Cargo Ship at Sea

Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 1 

The UK Department for Transport awarded £375,000 to a project led by ZEM and its partners as a part of the clean maritime demonstration competition round 1. The competition was open to projects who contributed to the development of technologies addressing the immense challenges facing the UK’s maritime sector in efforts to reduce transport emissions


Ammonia is the closest alternative to an ideal fuel amongst the zero-carbon fuels as it has one of the highest volumetric energy density and it provides a similar overall performance to liquid propane gas-powered internal combustion engines. 

In this project, we  collaborated with the University of St Andrews, an internationally leading centre of solid state electrochemical research to show successful application of our new proton-conducting ceramic tubular cells to directly convert ammonia to electricity. We achieved a highly efficient direct ammonia conversion (%100) with no ammonia slippage and 250 hours of cell durability. 

The developed protonic solid oxide fuel cell has major advantages over other conventional solid oxide fuel cells such as lower operating temperatures and zero nitrogen oxides formation. 

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Innovation Challenge: Zero Emissions Heavy Duty Vehicles

Funded by Transport Scotland and managed by Scottish Enterprise, this funding allowed organisations to undertake detailed design and assess the technical and commercial feasibility of their proposed solutions to contribute to developing solutions for heavy duty vehicles. £50,000 was awarded to ZEM and The University of St. Andrews to develop the second generation of the protonic solid oxide fuel cells which offered higher performance, longer durability, and lower production cost compared to its predecessor.

In this project, we focused on the optimisation of the catalyst type and the development of a new spraying technique to improve ammonia cracking performance of the cells. We developed a spraying technology to apply a Barium Cerium Zirconate-based catalyst on tubular supports and optimise the loading achieving a 100% ammonia cracking. Our technology could significantly impact the rapidly growing renewable energy sector (including its supply vessels) which is actively pursuing clean fuels.

Test Tubes


Funded by the Net Zero Technology Centre, £159,000 was awarded to this project to address the need to move away from fossil fuel- driven transport to clean fuels in the marine sector.

For low temperature fuel cells, ammonia needs to be cracked in a separate unit resulting in an efficiency loss. To this end, we focused on an efficient high temperature solid oxide fuel cell to convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy powering electric drives. The system simultaneously crack and convert ammonia to produce electricity driving water vessels.  

In this project, we focused on the optimisation of cell components for a highly effective and durable ammonia conversion. 

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