Bureau Veritas Prepares Guidelines to Support Development of Ammonia

BV releases rules and guidance to support ammonia as a marine fuel
NYK is among the shipowners that has announced plans for ammonia-fueled vessels (NYK)

Published May 5, 2021 7:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

Efforts are underway across the shipping industry to support the development and commercialization of ammonia as am maritime to support reducing carbon emissions from ship operations. In the latest step, classification society fuel Bureau Veritas released an Ammonia-Prepared notation. Work is also underway on a comprehensive Rule Note for ammonia as fuel.

According to BV, the development of the notation and the rule note is a critical step to support the broad efforts across the industry working to develop ammonia. The efforts are to support ship owners, designers, shipyards, and charterers in advancing their journeys toward using ammonia and a zero-carbon future.

“Ammonia is considered a key fuel on the road to the IMO’s 2030 and 2050 GHG and carbon reduction targets,” notes Laurent Leblanc, Senior Vice- President, Technical & Operations at Bureau Veritas. “We are working to advance its safe development and are currently involved in joint industry projects to assess the risks of ammonia. The release of these new notations is a major step to help ship-owners, designers, shipyards, and charterers make progress in their sustainability journeys and inform their future investments.”

Through the notation and guidelines, Bureau Veritas seeks to address the challenges of using ammonia in the shipping industry. While ammonia is viewed as a promising alternative fuel, BV notes that it has a lower energy density compared to other fuels (about half that of LNG and about a third of fuel oil).  It has comparatively poor combustibility properties and has been seen in several accidents, ammonia’s toxicity requires stringent measures to protect crew and/or passengers from exposure.

BV’s Ammonia-Prepared notation applies to new-builds and certifies that a ship has been designed and constructed to later be converted to use ammonia as fuel. The notation targets the spaces and structural components that will accommodate future ammonia fuel tanks, fuel handling equipment, and ammonia vapor treatment installations. The notation also covers specific requirements for the conversion of engines and boilers from using fuel oil, LNG, or multiple fuels to ammonia. 

The notation was developed BV reports in collaboration with different stakeholders including ship owners, equipment makers, designers, and shipyards building on expertise across the value chain. Bureau Veritas recently issued its first Ammonia-Prepared approval in principle to GTT related to containment of ammonia in membrane MARK III tanks.

The current release is a prelude to a full Rule Note on ammonia as fuel. BV said the rule note, which will be the next step in the process, will primarily concern the safety aspects of managing ammonia in storage tanks, fuel-piping systems, and during bunkering.

Bureau Veritas is addressing the challenges of sustainability and the energy transition by providing rules and guidelines to the safety, risk, and performance requirements for innovation in future fuels and propulsion systems. In 2021, they plan to release rules that will address methanol, ammonia, and hydrogen as marine fuels.