Sunday, September 27, 2020
Maritime Propulsion

August 12, 2020

Japanese Partners Eye Ammonia as Marine Fuel

Ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier concept (Image: NYK Line)

A joint research and development (R&D) project initiated by a group of Japanese maritime companies aims to utilize ammonia as a marine fuel and establish methods for the mass transportation and supply of ammonia.

The joint R&D agreement signed by NYK Line, Japan Marine United Corporation and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) on August 6 will target the commercialization of an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier (AFAGC) that would use ammonia as the main fuel, in addition to an ammonia floating storage and regasification barge (A-FSRB).

The maritime industry has shown significant interest in ammonia as an alternative fuel to help meet the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) goal of halving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 and reaching a target of zero as early as the end of this century.

Since carbon dioxide (CO2) is not emitted when ammonia is burned, it is viewed to have promise as a next-generation fuel that could mitigate shipping’s impact on global warming. In addition, it is said that zero emissions can be realized by utilizing CO2-free hydrogen as a raw material for ammonia. In particular, a significant reduction in CO2 emissions is expected to be achieved by replacing coal and natural gas as the main fuels for power generation.

Parties in Japan have succeeded in generating electricity through the use of a gas turbine with 100% ammonia. In addition, innovative next-generation thermal-power-generation technologies that contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions are being developed. These technologies are aimed at generating electricity by co-firing ammonia at coal-fired power stations.

As demand for ammonia fuel is foreseen to expand, the need for a transportation infrastructure for stable supply is expected to increase. Thus, the partner companies have set out to develop and commercialize the AFAGC and A-FSRB.

Large-scale marine transportation of ammonia is currently carried out by multipurpose liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels. In this project, the partners will be engaged in the R&D of a liquefied ammonia gas carrier. It is expected that the use of ammonia, which is the cargo, as a marine fuel will contribute to the early realization of zero emissions for oceangoing vessels.

The partners will also be engaged in the R&D of a world-first barge equipped with a floating storage and regasification facility exclusively for ammonia. This project is expected to contribute to the early introduction of ammonia fuel by utilizing the barge as an alternative to land facilities (storage tanks, regasification facilities, etc.) for the stable supply of ammonia fuel.

The joint R&D initiative aims not only to utilize ammonia as a marine fuel but also to establish methods for the mass transportation and supply of ammonia and to become a solution for introducing a mixed combustion of ammonia into coal-fired power stations operated by Japanese electric power companies.

As a result, the project is expected to contribute to the decarbonization of not only the maritime industry but also the energy industry.

Ammonia floating storage and regasification barge concept (Image: NYK Line)

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