MISC Berhad, Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), Lloyd’s Register and MAN Energy Solutions will work together on a joint development project (JDP) for an ammonia-fueled tanker to support shipping’s drive towards a decarbonized future.
The creation of the alliance has been motivated by the partners’ shared belief that the maritime industry needs leadership and greater collaboration if shipping is to meet the International Maritime Organisation’s 2050 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission target, an ambition that requires commercially viable deep-sea Zero-Emission Vessels (ZEVs) are in operation by 2030.
Ammonia is just one of the pathways towards zero-carbon emitting vessels. A 2019 study by A.P. Moller - Maersk and Lloyds Register found that alcohols, biomethane and ammonia are the bets positioned for zero net emisisons shipping. (Earlier post.)
Ammonia is a carbon-free fuel and can be produced from renewable electricity. The energy conversion rate of this system is higher than that of biomaterial-based systems, but the production pathway cannot tap into potential energy sources such as waste biomass. The main challenge for ammonia is that it is highly toxic and even small accidents can create major risks to the crew and the environment. The transition from current to future applications is also a huge challenge for ammonia.
In January 2019, MAN Energy announced it was developing an ammonia-fueled engine. This builds on the technology development pathway that MAN ES presented at the NH3 Energy+ Topical Conference at Pittsburgh in October 2018. The €5-million (USD$5.7-million) project will last two to three years and, if the shipowners decide to deploy the finished product, “the first ammonia engine could then be in operation by early 2022.”
The partners recognize that the shipping industry will need to explore multiple decarbonization pathways and hope their collaboration will spur others in the maritime industry to join forces on addressing this global challenge.
The partners believe that the creation of such alliances will send a clear message that shipping can progress itself to fit times and circumstances, ahead of regulatory action.
The drive to decarbonise shipping will be a dominant focus of the decade ahead and follows a year of action in 2019 that saw the launch of Getting to Zero Coalition, an alliance of leading maritime, energy, infrastructure and finance companies committed to getting commercially viable deep-sea ZEVs powered by zero emission energy resources into operation by 2030.
Shipping’s decarbonization as a shared obligation was also a key talking point during the Global Maritime Forum held in Singapore in October 2019 where more than 220 industry leaders congregated to discuss the challenges facing the shipping industry.