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Amogy Joins Race to Introduce First Ammonia-Powered Vessel

ammonia-powered tug
Amogy reports it will demostrate an ammonia-powered tugboat late in 2023 (Amogy)

Published Mar 6, 2023 5:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

Brooklyn, New York-based startup Amogy, which has already conducted some of the first demonstrations of ammonia-fueled engines, is setting its sights on demonstrating the world’s first ammonia-fueled tugboat in late 2023. The company which was founded just three years ago by four MIT Ph.D. alumni has already attracted investments from Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund, Saudi Aramco, and others as it pursues its mission to enable the decarbonization of the heavy-duty transportation sector.

Amogy reports 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 company’s system, three times larger than what has been field-tested on an ammonia-fueled semi-truck earlier this year. Amogy's ammonia-to-power technology feeds liquid ammonia through its cracking modules integrated into a hybrid fuel cell system, which powers the electric motors.

"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. "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 commercialize in 2024."

The company recently announced it would initiate testing operations for its 200kW ammonia-to-power platform at Sustainable Energy Catapult Center in Norway. The team will focus on test programs for a 200kW powerpack that they plan to install on the tugboat. The company said it plans to continue the testing in Norway and also plans a demonstration for an inland barge retrofit in partnership with Southern Devall.

Feeney Shipyard, based in Kingston, New York, from which Amogy sourced the tugboat, will lead retrofitting construction for the tug including the removal of the existing engine and installation of the ammonia-to-power system. Because of the unique challenges in handling ammonia, the United States Coast Guard and DNV are working closely with the project 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."

Other partners that are collaborating to bring the first ammonia-powered ship to life include Seam, Amogy's electrical systems integrator, and C-Job Naval Architects, the independent ship design company integrating the ammonia system, which will also supervise the conversion process. Additionally, Amogy is working with Unique Technical Solutions (UTS), its electrical and systems integrator from prior demonstrations, for the electrical and systems work involved in scaling up the powerpack for pre-commercial use. Yara Clean Ammonia, which is working to build the first ammonia bunkering network, will be providing green ammonia for the demonstration.

The tug would be the latest in a series of demonstrations by Amogy since the company was started in 2020. The company in 2021 engineered the first-ever ammonia-powered drone flight at a 5kW scale followed a year later by a 100kW powerpack in a tractor. Their latest demonstration scaled the powerpack to 300kW for the first ammonia-powered semi-truck.

In addition to the major engine manufacturers which are each reporting progress and running tests for ammonia-fueled motors, several projects are competing to launch the first ammonia-fueled vessel or tug. Japan’s NYK entered into a contract with Keihin Dock Co. in August 2022 to modify a tugboat to ammonia-fuel specifications. They plan to use an existing LNG-fueled tug for the conversion reporting that work would begin in 2023 with a demonstration planned in 2024. EverWind Fuels, a private developer of green hydrogen and ammonia production in Nova Scotia, Canada, and A.P. Moller-Maersk’s Svitzer group also reported last fall that they were working on the concepts for a net-zero emission tug.