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 Innovation in Ship: Liquified gas storing ships.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

30+ innovations will shape the shipping industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the shipping industry using innovation intensity models built on over 25,000 patents, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Vessel propulsion systems, gas turbine-propelled vessels, and vessel internal combustion engine are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are underwater drilling support systems and anti-fouling ship hull coatings, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the shipping industry

Liquified gas storing ship is a key innovation area in shipping

Liquefied gas storing ships are tank ships designed to store and transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). A typical LNG cargo ship houses four to six chilled tanks located along the centreline of the vessel. It stores and carries LNG at a temperature of -160°C.

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 liquified gas storing ships.

Key players in liquified gas storing ships – 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 liquified gas storing ships

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Korea Development Bank 275 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 201 Unlock company profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 59 Unlock company profile
Engie 21 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 15 Unlock company profile
Exxon Mobil 9 Unlock company profile
Naturgy Energy Group 8 Unlock company profile
DongHwa Entec 7 Unlock company profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 6 Unlock company profile
Kobe Steel 6 Unlock company profile
Wartsila 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 liquified gas storing ships. Its patents in this space relate to LNG carriers with multiple compression cylinders and boil-off gas and refrigerant heat exchangers, systems and methods for preventing liquid cargo in ship from evaporating, fuel gas supply line connected from the LNG storage tank to the high-pressure gas injection engine, and load-accommodating arrangements in LNG cargo ships.

In March 2023, DSME received a contract worth $521m for the construction of two new LNG carriers for Angelicoussis Group’s subsidiary Maran Gas Maritime. The company received orders for a total of 38 LNG carriers in 2022, which was the highest number of LNG carrier orders to be secured by a shipbuilder during the year.

Other leading innovators in liquified gas storing ships include Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries and Engie.

In terms of application diversity, Exxon Mobil leads the pack, followed by Naturgy Energy Group and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. By geographic reach, Exxon Mobil is the leading company, followed by Kobe Steel and Wartsila.

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


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.