HD Hyundai reveals digital ship ambitions

Hyundai highlights further expansion away from pure steel to digital ocean aspirations

HD Hyundai, the South Korean Conglomerate under which the group’s shipbuilding businesses are clustered has signalled an expansive move into new ocean businesses at one of the largest global electronic consumer fairs (CES 2023).


Known as “Ocean Transformation” it is being described as a “fundamental reframing of the company’s perspective and approach on ocean utilization with a focus on sustainability.”


Hyundai is one of the giant South Korean family-controlled chaebols with close links to the country’s politics. They tend to have broad business scopes including heavy industries. For Hyundai this includes Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard,and KSOE which are now HD Hyundai.


The new ocean transformation shift was announced by HD Hyundai CEO Kisun Chung who is reported to have said:


“For HD Hyundai, the ocean is our home base; It’s where we can share the depth of our expertise. We hope to realize a sustainable future for mankind by capitalizing on the ocean’s infinite potential. To solve the most pressing challenges faced by mankind today, including the global energy crisis and climate change, we must capitalize on the infinite potential of the sea.

“As a future builder, HD Hyundai will take lead in driving a historic expansion of human territory and sustainable growth for future generations through a paradigm shift with Ocean Transformation.”


The four key areas for HD Hyundai are Ocean Mobility, OceanWise, Ocean Life, and Ocean Energy. These include the group’s continued and increased focus on autonomous vessels and systems as well as other AI and big data projects for marine data solutions including offshore energy, wind assist-solutions and nuclear power.

The company said it has a number of wind assist system designs such as flettner rotors and and  wingsails.


For shipping it pointed to a new 90,000 m3 ammonia-fuelled, ammonia carrier and a “world-first”  40,000 m3 liquid hydrogen carrier.

The slick CES press event also showcased a new AI-based cargo handling system with predictive boil-off based on a vessel’s navigation.


“How we power these ships will have to change to make sure we carry sustainable energy sustainably, ” said Sungjoon Kim, who is executive vice president of the Advanced Research Center at HD Hyundai subsidiary Korea Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering (KSOE).


Highlighting the groups broad range of research investments he went on to describe a number of technologies for a wide range of potential future fuel scenarios.

As well as dual fuel hydrogen and ammonia engines being useful during the shipping industry transition to zero emission future, Mr Kim pointed to advances in electrification, estimating that as many as 30% of small and midsize vessels “going electric” by 2030.

“Electric vessels are great, not just for their carbon reduction advantages, but also for more responsive control, greater flexibility in system design, low noise and low vibration,”


“For now they are powered in part by batteries and engines, just like our cars which began their decarbonisation by going hybrid. But soon just as cars evolved to be fully electric, we will be able to use solid oxide fuel cells with hydrogen to power our ships much more efficiency and sustainably.”


 Digitial control right from the shipyard


In a sign of HD Hyundai’s further move into supplying highly sophisticated vessels, the focus was heavily on digital systems that the company says will be implemented by its shipyards from the design stage.


In listing the AI controlled cargo and fuel system, an electric propulsion management system and autonomous navigation,  Sungjoon Kim said the group has been using its own digital twin system to perform “virtual trial runs” a digital simulation of a sea trial on new vessel designs.


“These virtual trials save a great deal of time and cost in the  shipbuilding process, and it is also possible to simulate much more extreme conditions, so our ships come out more robust.”


He also pointed how these digital systems are all part of the HD Hyundai goal of working towards autonomous unmanned deep sea vessels in the future. A digital convergence centre at the company R&D hub will be instrumental in this he said.


“Unmanned shipping is our ultimate goal in our future Ocean Mobility”




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