With the decarbonisation clock ticking on shipping, a group of 23 maritime industry organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to undertake a landmark study on common issues concerning ammonia as an alternative marine fuel
The joint cross-industry study brings together some of the most influential players in energy, mining, power utilities, chemical, terminal, shipping, shipbuilding, manufacturing, bunkering and classification organisations.
Among the signatories of this joint study framework are ABS, Anglo American, ClassNK, DNV, Equinor, Fortescue Metals Group, GENCO Shipping & Trading, JERA, K-Line, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsui E&S Machinery, Nihon Shipyard, NS United, Pavilion Energy, Total Energies, Trafigura, UBE Industries, Uniper, Uyeno Transtech, Vale, Vopak Terminal Singapore, Itochu Enex and Itochu.
“Transitioning to a low-carbon future requires collaboration across shipping’s entire value chain combined with an openness to explore all alternatives to fuels which emit harmful emissions,” said DNV Maritime area manager Japan Stian Erik Sollied. “When it comes to the use of ammonia as a marine fuel, big questions concerning safety, availability and a regulatory framework remain unanswered – despite the high level of industry excitement this fuel is currently generating,” added Mr Sollied.
ABS chairman, president and chief executive Chris Wiernecki, added ammonia “offers shipowners and operators a zero-carbon tank-to-wake emissions profile but is not without challenges. This kind of cross-industry collaboration is vital if we are to better understand the risks and the enhanced safety requirements created by alternate fuels.”
Among the areas of interest that will be studied by the organisations are: safety assessment of ammonia-fuelled vessels; safety assessment of ammonia bunkering; ammonia fuel specification; and Net CO2 emissions of ammonia production. Moreover, this framework may ask some ammonia producers, relevant international organisations, and port authorities/regulators in potential bunkering countries to share their opinions and expertise.
This joint study is not limited to verifying and addressing common issues with ammonia as an alternative marine fuel. It also aims to support development of ammonia-fuelled vessels and the development of a worldwide supply chain of ammonia by Itochu and other partners.
IMO’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy sets targets to reduce CO2 emissions per transport work – as an average across international shipping – by at least 40% by 2030 (compared to 2008 levels); to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050; and to phase them out entirely during this century. With an eye to achieving these goals, the early adoption of ammonia as a suitable zero-emissions, alternative marine fuel is an approach gaining increasing industry interest, said DNV.
Several collaborative industry efforts are underway to produce ammonia for use as a marine fuel, ship ammonia and develop engines capable of burning ammonia.
In 2020, for example, NYK Line, Japan Marine United Corp and ClassNK signed a joint R&D agreement for the commercialisation of an ammonia-fuelled ammonia gas carrier and an ammonia floating storage and regasification barge.
Numerous other collaborative industry efforts are underway to produce ammonia for use as a marine fuel, ship ammonia and develop two-stroke and four-stroke engines capable of burning ammonia.
In May, for example, Mitsui OSK Lines, Total and Pavilion Energy joined an ammonia bunkering study launched by Itochu and Vopak in 2020.
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