Japanese Designs for Large Ammonia-Fueled Ammonia Carrier

large ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier
Designs will be developed for a large ammonia carrier to be also fueled by ammonia

Published Nov 4, 2021 5:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

Three of Japan’s leading companies have agreed to a joint project to develop a large ammonia carrier with the vessel potentially being fueled by ammonia. The design is in anticipation of a strong global increase in demand to transport ammonia due to the gas’s leading role in R&D as a zero-emission fuel. The goal is to commission the first large ammonia carrier by as early as 2026.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. will be participating in the effort working jointly with Namura Shipbuilding and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) on the joint development of the large-size ammonia carrier fueled by ammonia. The companies look to leverage their experiences with building and operating multi-gas carriers for the transportation of LPG to develop the most efficient designs for the transportation of ammonia.

Currently, the companies noted that ammonia is used mainly as a raw material for fertilizer. Because of the complexities of transportation and the limited applications, maritime transport volume for ammonia however is currently limited. However, it is expected to be in stronger demand in the future as a next-generation clean energy source that emits no carbon dioxide during combustion. Among the early applications that they envision serving is for mixed combustion at coal thermal power plants and use as a hydrogen carrier. 

Citing the opportunity for the market to transport ammonia, the companies said annual demand for ammonia in Japan is estimated at three million tons by 2030. By 2050, demand is expected to have grown to 30 million tons annually.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding will focus on the optimal design of cargo tank and deck tank used for ammonia fuel in the vessel design. They will be responsible for organizing engine and related mechanical systems including the fuel supply system, and development and design of cargo handling equipment, special equipment for ammonia transportation, and safety equipment onboard. 

MOL looks to build on its previously announced agreement working with MAN Energy Solutions and Mitsui E&S Machinery to target the purchase of an ammonia-fueled main engine. MAN ES is currently working on developing an engine that uses ammonia as its main fuel. MOL hopes to use this engine as part of the project to develop the ammonia carrier.