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Partnership for global hydrogen/ammonia-fuelled shipping

© Shutterstock / Niwat panketLiquid ammonia tank.

Amogy Inc,  a developer of ammonia power solutions, and maritime project developer Amon Maritime, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to bring forward ammonia power solutions for the global shipping industry.

A developer of ammonia-to-power technology signs a partnership with a maritime company focused on transitioning shipping to ammonia fuel.

The potential for hydrogen to fuel ships is exciting but it needs a cost-effective energy carrier, novel technology, infrastructure and commercial uplift – this partnership could help accelerate this.

Ammonia could be an effective energy storage medium and is the hydrogen industry’s current focus, but technical and CO2 storage challenges remain.

Amogy is a startup established in 2020 focused on producing an ammonia-based fuel cell system and applying it to industrial transportation. It recently received (June 2022) €30 million from SK Innovation and major shareholders include Amazon and AP Ventures, which specialise in funding hydrogen.

Its partner in the venture, Amon Maritime, is focused on project-developed ammonia-based shipping in short lanes – its goal is to launch the world’s first ammonia-powered ship. Working with technology, commercial and financial companies, it has backed Viridis Bulk Carriers who are launching a fleet of ammonia-powered ships in the short sea bulk segment in Europe.

In the Viridis fleet, reciprocating engines will burn ammonia to generate propulsive power, and an exhaust gas after-treatment system optimised for ammonia will eliminate any by-products, ensuring that any other harmful pollutants are scrubbed.

Ammonia can be green cut but the technology process underlying its creation is key

Inputs for ammonia production can be natural gas, carbon capture or wind/solar. Wind/solar would produce ‘green ammonia’, natural gas combined with carbon capture and storage technology to manage its CO2 emissions is known as “blue ammonia”.

Amogy’s system includes onboard liquid ammonia storage, a reformer/ reactor and a fuel cell. The ammonia would be cracked on board to hydrogen on demand and transmitted to a fuel cell or piloted in an internal combustion engine.

Bunkering infrastructure has been developed by Amon Maritime. Azane Fuel Solutions, which it launched with ECONNECT Energy will deliver turn-key ammonia bunkering solutions to any port in the world, based on its own proprietary technology

What are the implications of the use of ammonia as a shipping fuel?

Ammonia, NH3, does not contain carbon and therefore will not release any CO2 into the atmosphere. While this makes it attractive in terms of decarbonisation potential, there remain risks around technical barriers, especially high toxicity and corrosivity.

Compared to other zero carbon fuels, ammonia is considered preferable by many due to the relative ease with which it can be stored and handled, its cost, low explosivity, scalability and superior volumetric energy density. 

One of the challenges for the widespread use of hydrogen is the ensuring an appropriate storage carrier for transportation. The UK’s Committee on Climate Change has said that ammonia has a lower cost for transporting hydrogen over distances than transporting hydrogen itself.

According to a UK government funded feasibility study on ammonia to green hydrogen, a decentralised model such as proposed here where hydrogen is cracked onsite is more economically favourable than a centralised model. The technology of green ammonia has attracted investment from leading private equity group Carlyle and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.

Zero carbon ammonia will come at a cost initially, says Amon Maritime, but should reach cost parity in time.

Ammonia fuel plant to be built in Gulf Coast

Another partnership this week catapults ammonia production for fuel sale around the world. That is between Japan’s JERA and Germany’s Uniper to build an ammonia plant in the Gulf Coast of 2 million tonnes per annum with expansion plans to 8 mtpa.

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