Progress in Ammonia-Fueled Ship Design with Class Society AiP Issued

class society issues approval in principal on ammonia-fueled tanker design
A shuttle tanker design previously built by Samsung (file photo)

Published Sep 25, 2020 1:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

The development of ammonia-fueled ships took another step forward with the announcement this week that Lloyd's Register (LR) has granted an Approval in Principle (AiP) to Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) for an ammonia-fueled tanker design. It is the latest development among the competing projects seeking to commercialize ammonia as a fuel source for the maritime industry.

Ammonia is among the zero-carbon fuels that are being considered by maritime stakeholders for the future of the industry as they work toward the IMO’s declared goal of halving the 2008 levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. There is a widely held belief in the industry that ammonia may be a critical fuel source for the future of the maritime industry and currently numerous research efforts are underway seeking technologies for commercial application.

In its 2020 Energy Prediction report, the International Energy Agency forecast that the use of ammonia and hydrogen as vessel fuels would grow to account for 60 percent of marine fuels by 2060. Similarly, BP forecast in its 2020 energy prediction report that non-hydrocarbon fuels, including ammonia, hydrogen, and biofuel, would increase to 85 percent of 2018’s total energy amount by 2050.

“LR is working with leading industry partners to make deep-sea zero-carbon vessels a reality within this decade,” said LR Group CEO designate and Marine and Offshore Director Nick Brown. “Shipping needs action not words to deliver on the IMO’s 2050 GHG ambitions and this challenge calls for collective action and industry collaboration. Following the announcement of the ammonia-fueled tanker joint development project in January, we are delighted that SHI has made steady progress on the fuel gas supply system and detailed ship design.”

Comment on the awarding of the AiP, SHI said it will proceed with its work on the development of a relevant fuel gas supply system as well as detailed ship designs. Its goal is to commercialize these developments by 2024. In January 2020, MISC Berhad, Samsung Heavy Industries, Lloyd’s Register, and MAN Energy Solutions announced that they would work together on a joint development project to develop the ammonia-fueled tanker.

The competition to develop commercial designs that use ammonia-fueled marine engines is progressing with a number of competing projects. In July, Lloyd’s Register also issued an Approval in Principle (AIP) for an ammonia fuel-propelled design to a joint venture project with the Korea Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. 

Among the other initiatives underway to develop ship designs is an R&D project announced in July involving NYK Line, Japan Marine United Corporation, and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK). Their goal is the commercial development of an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier (AFAGC) and an ammonia floating storage and regasification barge (A-FSRB). A few weeks ago, Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kaisha, IHI Motor Co., and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai announced that they have signed a joint R&D agreement for the commercialization of an ammonia fuel tugboat.

The major engine manufacturers are also working on R&D projects developing ammonia-fueled power projects.

To meet the IMO’s goal, it is believed that zero-carbon vessels need to enter the world fleet by 2030.