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NYK Proceeds with Designs for Ammonia Bunker Vessel

ammonia bunker vessel
NYK's concept for the ammonia bunker vessel with a transfer boom (NYK)

Published Aug 17, 2023 2:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

NYK is moving forward with the development of what could become the first ammonia bunker ship for the industry. After receiving initial design approvals last fall, they are now partnering with TB Global Technologies to develop the designs for the bunkering boom that will transfer the ammonia to the ships being fueled.

NYK looks to leverage TBG’s extensive experience in cargo handling equipment for crude oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and other liquids, to develop the system to meet the unique needs of ammonia. They note that the boom will need to be able to handle the highly toxic and corrosive properties of ammonia.

The companies report they will significantly enhance the safety of supplying ammonia to ships by employing TBG's technology to ensure that the liquid does not leak. A typical bunker boom is highly durable because it is made of rigid pipe, and its swivel joints allow it to change direction freely, making it easy to operate. In this joint development, the two companies said they will employ TBG's technology to prevent the liquid inside the bunker boom from leaking out when the boom is released from a ship including in a possible emergency situation such as a natural disaster. The goal is to tackle the biggest challenge in ammonia fuel supply, i.e., preventing leaks of the dangerous material.

NYK became the first company in Japan to receive approval in principle (AiP) from ClassNK in September 2022 for the design of an ammonia bunker vessel. The company reported the design was developed entirely in-house and made extensive use of 3D modeling.

The 3D models enabled more in-depth discussions about the risk assessments for the vessel. They reviewed hazardous placements and escape routes during a hazard identification study. The process allowed them to meet the requirements and include specifications that incorporated sufficient safety measures against the toxicity and corrosiveness of ammonia to meet the requirements to receive the design approval from ClassNK.

NYK is actively working with a broad range of designs for vessels that would employ ammonia as their fuel when it is ready for the market. They have received design approvals for an ammonia gas carrier and an ammonia barge/regasification unit and are proceeding with a project to convert an LNG-fueled tug to run on ammonia. They also reported last fall that they are in the concept design phase of a new capesize bulk carrier and a very large crude oil tanker (VLCC) in a project that aims to build an LNG-fueled vessel that can be efficiently converted to an ammonia-fueled vessel, or an ammonia-fuel ready LNG-fueled vessel.

The timing for the bunker vessel is for the mid-2020s to coincide with the anticipated timeline for the commercial release of ammonia as a marine fuel. This is one of several projects that different companies are pursuing to develop ammonia bunker technology and the vessels capable of supporting the potential alternative fuel.