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Hyundai Mipo Dockyard receives green light from Lloyd’s Register for ammonia-fueled ships

Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co., a unit of Korea Shipbuilding, has been given the green light for its ammonia-propelled ships from Lloyd’s Register. Hyundai Mipo Dockyard intends to commercialize the ammonia-propelled ships by 2025 in cooperation with global engine maker MAN Energy Solutions and Lloyd’s Register.

Ammonia has been attracting attention in the shipbuilding industry as an eco-friendly fuel for ships that does not emit carbon dioxide when it is burned.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted mandatory steps under which carriers are required to operate a fleet of vessels designed to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 30% by 2025 compared with 2008.

The IMO is also considering further reducing emission levels by 40% by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050.

From 1 Jan. 2020, the IMO lowered the sulfur cap on fuel content from 3.5% to 0.5%.

Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co.,Ltd., newly formed from Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., is the subholding firm of Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co. and has three shipbuilders—Hyundai Heavy, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co.

Korea Shipbuilding and Hyundai Heavy set up a center in March in Ulsan to develop ships powered by both liquefied natural gas (LNG) engines and fuel cells by late 2021.


Bernard Harper

Why is the safety of ammonia never discussed? I have experienced ammonia vapor and it horrifically nasty, even in tiny concentrations. It attacks the airways and eyes, making breathing and vision almost impossible. In bulk it could be devastingly toxic and kill like a nuclear explosion if powerfully dispersed to air. IMO, no ship transporting it or using it as fuel could ever be allowed to dock anywhere near a major city. The risk of terrorism alone should forbid it. The risk of corrosion in older vessels and collisions is too high IMO to ever allow these ships to become commonplace unless the safety design is literally bomb-proof.

James Lazar

For a good review of ammonia toxicity see this review:

The pungent smell of ammonia in the air is detectable at concentrations as low as 5 ppm. Hence, significant exposure to ammonia in the air without the patient’s knowledge is rare. Ammonia concentrations of up to 100 ppm in the air is tolerated well for up to several hours.[22] At 1700 ppm, coughing, laryngospasm, and edema of the glottic region start. Concentrations of 2500 to 4500 ppm can be fatal in approx. 30 min and concentrations above 5000 ppm usually produce rapid respiratory arrest. Anhydrous ammonia in concentrations above 10000 ppm is sufficient to evoke skin damage.[23] The US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommendations state that the maximum permissible time-weighted average (TWA) exposure of anhydrous ammonia for an 8-hour workday of 40 hour-week is 25 ppm.[24] The short-term exposure limit (STEL) or the concentration at which exposure of longer than 15 minutes is potentially dangerous is 35 ppm. The concentration at which the gas is immediately harmful to life or health (IDLH) is 500 ppm.

There is minimal absorption of ammonia into the systemic circulation if there is short-term (under 120 seconds) inhalational exposure.[25] However, long-term inhalational exposure results in some absorption into the systemic circulation[26] Most of the inhaled ammonia gets dissolved in the mucus of the upper respiratory tract, and 70 to 80% gets excreted in the exhaled air.

Following inhalational injury, the patients generally present with rhinorrhea, scratchy throat, chest tightness, cough, dyspnea, and eye irritation. Since ammonia is a gas with a strong, pungent odor, the onset of symptoms is generally preceded by the patient identifying the smell, and people capable of escaping this environment are not subject to prolonged exposures. Prolonged or severe exposure to the gas results in full-thickness skin burns.


The only reason that ammonia is under consideration for propelling ships is because nuclear power is anathema.  The purported reason is that nuclear is "dangerous", yet there's never been an accident with a US nuke which caused harm to bystanders.

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