Vessel first opens navigation to marine net zero

The announcement that the world’s first ammonia powered heavy duty marine vessel is to be launched later this year has been hailed as a milestone for the sector’s net zero efforts.

US based Amogy has announced its plans to present its ammonia-powered, zero-emission tugboat in late 2023.

It said getting the first ammonia-powered vessel on the water signals a “huge milestone in the journey to zero-emissions shipping”, as ammonia is predicted to become the leading fuel source for the world’s giant cargo ships by 2050.

The company said it is currently retrofitting a tugboat that was originally built in 1957, that uses diesel generators and electric motors, with its ammonia-to-power system. It will be outfitted with a 1-megawatt version of the unique system, three times larger than what has been field-tested on Amogy’s ammonia-fuelled semi-truck earlier this year.

“We’re incredibly proud of unveiling the first ammonia-powered vessel later this year — especially because of the hope, promise and anticipation that ammonia has built as a zero-emission fuel in the heavy transportation industry — specifically in regards to maritime shipping,” said Seonghoon Woo, CEO of Amogy. “This is the first milestone of many you will see from Amogy in accelerating the accessibility and scalability of clean energy in the global maritime industry. With successful demonstrations of our ammonia-powered drone, tractor and semi-truck under our belts, we look forward to presenting the first ammonia-powered ship in 2023, with a target to fully commercialise in 2024.”

Yara Clean Ammonia (YCA), one of the world’s largest ammonia producers, and the largest trader and shipper of ammonia around the world, will be providing green ammonia for the demonstration.

Ammonia, which does not emit CO2 when used as a fuel, is expected to become a next-generation fuel as it contains properties ideally suited for the hydrogen economy. Furthermore, green ammonia, which is produced with renewable energy, results in zero greenhouse gas emissions from “well to wake”.

Magnus Ankarstrand, president of YCA, explained: “We are excited to be a part of Amogy’s tugboat project and to deliver green ammonia as a fuel for the world’s first vessel powered by ammonia. Yara Clean Ammonia plans to launch the world’s first Ammonia Bunker Network in Scandinavia, which is expected to expand YCA’s capacity to produce and ship ammonia globally.”

Amogy added: “The maritime industry is scrambling to replace dirty diesel fuel with cleaner alternatives. International shipping accounted for about three percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions — a percentage that’s expected to climb as more vessels deliver more goods and as other sectors reduce their share of global emissions. Amogy has developed a proprietary ammonia-to-power technology that converts ammonia to electric power effectively and efficiently.”

The company has been working with the United States Coast Guard and partnering with leading classification society DNV to ensure close alignment with all maritime safety standards.

“DNV has been working with Amogy since December 2021, focusing on the safety aspects of the development of their ammonia system,” says DNV’s senior consultant in Maritime Environmental Technology, Hans-Christian Wintervoll. “A high-level feasibility study was executed in early 2022, and Amogy has shown great momentum in development from that point, through the HAZID workshop in June the same year, to the HAZOP workshop in January this year. DNV is pleased to contribute to their continued success.”

To date, Amogy has raised $70 million in funding from strategic investors such as Amazon, Saudi Aramco, SK Innovation, AP Ventures and DCVC. Amogy said the plan is to sail the tugboat later in 2023 in upstate New York, pending further safety testing and regulatory discussions.