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Safety of Ammonia as Marine Fuel is Focus of Industry Collaboration

safety of ammonia as a marine fuel

Published Apr 19, 2021 6:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

Leading companies from across all the segments of the maritime industry are coming together in a project managed by Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping to develop the safety parameters and protocols necessary to accelerate the safe adoption of ammonia as a fuel for the shipping industry. Combining leader researchers, classification society, ship operators, fuel supplier and 
an engine manufacture, the project seeks to develop global standards for the safe use of ammonia as a fuel source. 

In announcing their program, the collaboration noted that ammonia is the focus on industry-wide discussions and research as a suitable long-term solution for maritime, as the industry transitions towards a zero- or low carbon value chain. However, due to the extreme toxicity of the fuel, it is critical to address the safety issues of ammonia to mitigate risks for both people, assets, and the environment.

The participating partners in the project, which will also be supplying the funding, include Lloyd’s Register’s Decarbonization Hub, A.P. Moller-Maersk, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NYK Line, Total, and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping. They expect the project will run throughout 2021.

“Shipping needs collaboration if the industry is to successfully meet the IMO 2050 targets,” said Lloyd’s Register Decarbonisation Programme Manager, Charles Haskell. “This collaboration is a significant milestone in this journey. We look forward to working with the project partners, who each represent different areas of the supply chain, in developing guidance, risk mitigation measures, and best practice on using ammonia so that we can support the safe uptake of the fuel.”

To accelerate the safe introduction of ammonia the project will seek to create greater clarity while assessing the safety challenges and need for global standards. Part of this will include developing a mature and detailed understanding of risk and safety concerns, which will be assessed through a quantitative risk assessment methodology in phase one of the project. This will ultimately lead to the development of best practices for safeguards in design and arrangements when using ammonia as a shipping fuel.

“In the eagerness to decarbonize the shipping sector proper risk management is critical and safety must not become an afterthought,” said Claus Winter Graugaard, Head of Onboard Vessel Solutions, the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping. “This project will provide matured understanding of safety risk enabling industry guidance towards future safeguard design and adequate operational guidelines enabling the safe and adequate deployment of ammonia as a marine fuel.” 

The project will also determine the risk of fatality from unintended releases of ammonia, as well as the risk contribution of key equipment and spaces dedicated to ammonia storage. To illustrate the potential for risk mitigation measures, the project partners will assess alternate vessel designs, optimized to be fueled by ammonia.