A Japanese consortium will develop, construct and test one of the world’s first ammonia-powered tugboats
ClassNK, NYK Line and IHI Power Systems formed a joint research and development (R&D) project to apply ammonia (NH3) as a fuel for tugs.
They will use their experience in operating an LNG-fuelled tug, Sakigake, to introduce zero-carbon-emissions operations for towing and manoeuvring ships. In this flagship project, the companies will conduct R&D from both technical and operational aspects, tackling technological development of the hull, engine and fuel supply system and develop safe navigation methods.
NYK Line will research and design the hull and fuel supply system and verify operations modes, based on its experience with 2015-built Sakigake.
IHI Power Systems will research and design the engine and exhaust gas aftertreatment systems, while ClassNK will review and assess the safety aspects of this ammonia-powered tug.
After evaluating the practicality of the R&D results, the consortium will study the construction of the ammonia-fuelled tugboat.
Their rationale for R&D and investment is to help the maritime industry cut emissions, in particular, greenhouse gases.
This joint R&D project envisions implementing ammonia as a marine fuel in multiple tugboats that require high output. It will study the possibility of commercialising marine equipment that uses ammonia for more vessels and establish a method for operating the vessel as a significant contribution to decarbonising the Japanese maritime industry and international shipping sector.
The R&D comes as IMO has set goals to halve greenhouse gas emissions from the international shipping sector by 2050. Since ammonia does not produce CO2 emissions, it is seen as a next-generation fuel to mitigate shipping’s impact on global warming.
LNG-fuelled tugboat Sakigake is owned by NYK Line. It is operated in Yokohama and Kawasaki ports under the navigation of Shin-Nippon Kaiyosha. Sakigake was built at Keihin Dock Co and is equipped with a dual-fuel engine that can use either LNG or diesel oil, depending on conditions. The tugboat’s engine was constructed by IHI Power Systems (Niigata Power Systems at the time of construction).
When using LNG fuel, Sakigake becomes an eco-friendly tugboat compared to when using heavy oil because sulphur oxide emissions are reduced by approximately 100%, nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 80% and CO2 emissions by about 30%.
Alternative fuels for tug propulsion were discussed during Riviera’s Tug Technology Webinar Weel (1-4 September). Use this link to access the webinar library to view these webinars and their presentations