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JERA, NYK Line and Resonac launch joint study on supplying fuel ammonia to ships

JERA, the Japan-based energy company created through the consolidation of the fuel and thermal power departments of the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Chubu Electric Power Company, launched a joint study with NYK Line and Resonac aimed at achieving the first supply of fuel ammonia to ships.

JERA is building a hydrogen and ammonia supply chain as part of reaching net zero CO2 emissions from domestic and international operations by 2050. This joint study aimed at supplying fuel ammonia to ships is the first example of a decarbonization solution that reaches beyond the power generation sector toward use in other industrial sectors (multi-purpose).

Using ammonia, which emits no CO2 when burned, as ship fuel enables a significant reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over conventional fuels while at sea. JERA believes this will make a substantial contribution to achieving zero-emission shipping in the future.

20231213_(Press)Ammonia and Hydrogen Supply Chain (Multi-Purpose Image)

Ammonia and hydrogen supply chain. Source: JERA

The agreement provides for a joint study by the three companies aimed at achieving the supply of fuel ammonia to a tugboat with a domestically produced ammonia-fueled engine being researched and developed by NYK Line as a Green Innovation Fund project under Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).


Rendering of ammonia tug. Source: NYK

Specific areas for the joint study:

  • Establishment of safe operational methods for supplying fuel ammonia.

  • Development of systems for transporting fuel ammonia to port areas and receiving it there.

  • Engagement with related organizations to formulate rules regarding the supply of marine fuel ammonia.

On 1 January 2023, Showa Denko K.K. and Showa Denko Materials Co., Ltd. (former Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.) merged and transformed themselves into two new companies: a holding company named “Resonac Holdings Corporation,” and a manufacturing company named “Resonac Corporation”.

A-Tug. In 2021, Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) approved the demonstration project for the commercialization of vessels equipped with a domestically produced ammonia-fueled engine involving NYK Line, Japan Engine Corporation, IHI Power Systems, and Nihon Shipyard.

Targeting the delivery of the ammonia-fueled tugboat (A-Tug) in FY2024, the companies aim to reduce GHG emissions by achieving an ammonia fuel mixed combustion rate of 80% or higher. The ammonia fuel will have a flame-retardant bottleneck, so this project assumes that a small amount of fuel oil will be used as pilot fuel.

The companies will confirm safe operation in demonstrations aimed to improve the mixed combustion rate with a view to achieving zero GHG emissions by using biofuel as a pilot fuel in the future.


Rendering of AFAGC. NYK

The partners are also developing an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier (AFAGC), with a targeted delivery in FY2026. The concept is to transportammonia as cargo and use the cargo and ammonia gas vaporized from the cargo as fuel during the voyage.

In August 2022, NYK concluded a contract with Keihin Dock Co., an NYK Group company, to modify a tugboat to ammonia-fuel specifications. Sakigake, a tugboat currently fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and operated in Tokyo Bay by NYK Group company Shin-Nippon Kaiyosha Corporation is being converted to operate on ammonia fuel by a target completion year of 2024.

To replace the entire engine, including the main engine and fuel tank, the engine room was cut to remove the existing LNG-fueled equipment and install the new ammonia-fueled machinery. The new engine was tested at IHI Power Systems’ Ota Plant.

This initiative is part of the development of vessels equipped with a domestically produced ammonia-fueled engine. In the development process, there were various design challenges in using ammonia as fuel, but the companies overcame these challenges without changing the size of the conventional tugboat and received Approval in Principle (AiP) from Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) in July 2022.


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