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The shipping industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increasing global trade and commerce and the need for efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable sea transportation solutions, as well as growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial and augmented intelligence, advanced vessel operation monitoring systems, and hydrogen fuel cells. In the last three years alone, there have been over 67,000 patents filed and granted in the shipping industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in Ship: Bio-fuel propulsion marine vessels. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 25,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the ship industry, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Bio-fuel propulsion marine vessels is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Biofuels are produced by direct combustion or processing of biomass. The use of biofuels for marine propulsion can significantly lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help decarbonise the shipping industry, owing to their low-carbon footprint.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established shipping companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of bio-fuel propulsion marine vessels.

Key players in bio-fuel propulsion marine vessels – a disruptive innovation in the shipping industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to bio-fuel propulsion marine vessels

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Korea Development Bank 21 Unlock Company Profile
Wartsila 20 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 13 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 12 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Precision Products 11 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
Hamworthy Combustion Engineering 6 Unlock Company Profile
AFC Mercury 6 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 5 Unlock Company Profile
Halla 5 Unlock Company Profile
MEYER WERFT 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), a company based in South Korea, is the leading patent filer in the bio-fuel propulsion marine vessels space, followed by Wartsila and Samsung Heavy Industries.

Wartsila carried out ship trials using a blend of 70% diesel and 30% biofuel in October 2022, partnering with Carnival’s Holland America Line and GoodFuels, a biofuels supplier based in the Netherlands. It also conducted tests using 100% biofuel on a Wartsila ZA40 engine installed onboard the Holland America Line vessel named Volendam.

In terms of application diversity, Hyundai Heavy Industries leads the pack, followed by Samsung Heavy Industries and Wartsila. By geographic reach, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the leading company, followed by Sumitomo Precision Products and Samsung Heavy Industries.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the shipping industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Shipping.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.