This week, Lloyd’s Register Decarbonization Center, A.P. Moller-Maersk, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NYK Line, Total and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping are joining forces in a new project aimed at guiding the safe use of ammonia as a bunker fuel for shipping.
Ammonia as a fuel is the subject of intense debate as a suitable long-term solution for shipping as the industry moves towards a zero or low-carbon value chain.
Green ammonia can be produced from renewable energy through the electrolysis of H2O, making it a zero-carbon fuel. However, due to the extreme toxicity of the fuel, it is critical to address ammonia safety issues to mitigate risks to both people, property and the environment.
To accelerate the safe introduction of ammonia into the maritime sector, the new venture partners agree that it is critical to create clarity, assess safety challenges and the need for global standards.
Part of this will include developing a mature and detailed understanding of safety risks and concerns, which will be assessed through a quantitative risk assessment methodology in the first phase of the project. This will ultimately lead to the development of best practices for safeguards in design and arrangements when ammonia is used as a bunker fuel.
The project will also determine the risk of death from unintentional ammonia emissions, as well as the contribution to risk from key equipment and spaces dedicated to ammonia storage. To illustrate the potential for risk mitigation measures, project partners will evaluate alternative vessel designs optimized for ammonia fueling.
The project, funded by the participating partners, will be managed by the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping and is expected to run through 2021.
“In the drive to decarbonize the shipping industry, proper risk management is critical and safety must not become secondary,” said Claus Winter Graugaard, head of shipboard solutions at the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.
“The safe operation of ammonia as a fuel is the most important requirement for successfully designing and deploying ammonia-powered vessels. At Maersk we see green ammonia as one of the fuels of the future.
It does not emit CO2 during combustion and offers very promising scalability potential. In addition to the technical challenges, the challenge of ammonia safety is one of the main hurdles to be solved for ammonia to become a viable bunker fuel, so we are very happy to partner with key players in the ecosystem to solve the challenge of ammonia safety,” said Ole Graa Jakobsen, head of fleet technology at A. P. Moller – Maersk.
Ammonia is what makes fertilizer, an unpleasant-smelling and potentially explosive material.
Many crewmembers experienced in handling ammonia – a toxic and nauseating substance – are naturally horrified at the thought that one day thousands of ships may run on it.
One of the most potential dangers of using ammonia is that even a small leak can cause deadly damage.
Earlier this month, one crew member died and three others became seriously ill after inhaling ammonia gas on the LPG tanker Hamburg DW off Malaysia.