Fortescue Plans World’s First Ammonia-Fuel PSV Conversion in 2022

world's first ammonia-fuel conversion planned for PSV ship in 2022
MMA Leveque a 246-foot PSV will be the first conversion to run almost totally on green ammonia (MMA Offshore)

Published Nov 11, 2021 3:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

In a challenge to the shipping industry to accelerate its move to net-zero operations, Fortescue Future Industries, the green technology unit of Australian mining giant Fortescue, said it will begin operating the world’s first ammonia-fueled ship within the next year. The announcement comes as part of an ambitious plan by Fortescue chairman Dr. Andrew Forrest to decarbonize the company’s transportation and mining operations as well as the aviation sector.

“This brings the shipping industry much closer to becoming carbon neutral well before 2040 with only entrenched industry practices slowing global progress of carbon-neutral shipping,” said Fortescue revealing its plans for the first ship as well as a goal to convert its entire fleet of nearly 100 ore carriers. Earlier this year, the company already achieved successful combustion of blended ammonia fuel in a locomotive. 

The conversion in shipping will begin in partnership with MMA Offshore converting the company’s 246-foot PSV the MMA Leveque. According to Dr. Forrest, the vessel will “run almost totally on green ammonia,” within the next 12 months. Currently, the MMA Leveque, which was built in 2010, operates on four diesel-electric Cummins main engines. 

Speaking at Transport Day at COP26, Dr. Forrest said, “This vessel will show the shipping industry the power of a vessel fueled by green ammonia in real-world conditions. It is world-leading technology and will assist in providing the shipping industry with the practical know-how to decarbonize completely.”

Forrest said that the company is investing heavily in research and development to transform its operations on road, rail, and sea with zero pollution fuels as soon as possible. He believes it will be possible to achieve net-zero operations before 2040 and during his speech called for the entire shipping industry to embrace the 2040 target.

Last summer, Wartsila, one of the many companies also working on R&D for ammonia-fueled propulsion reported strong progress with its trials. The company said its engines can currently operate on natural gas, biogas, synthetic methane, or hydrogen blends of up to 25 percent hydrogen while one engine was also operating on a 70 percent ammonia content. Wartsila anticipates having an engine concept with pure ammonia fuel in 2023. The company said its efforts will also lead to an engine and plant concept for pure hydrogen operation for the energy market by 2025.