Southern Devall Tests Out Ammonia-Fueled Powerpack on a Barge

Southern Devall towboat and a tank barge on a river
File image courtesy Southern Devall

Published Nov 3, 2022 4:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

The newly-integrated towage operator Southern Devall - formerly Devall Towing and Southern Towing - has agreed to test out an ammonia-powered generating system aboard one of its tank barges. 

Its new agreement with Amogy, a Brooklyn-based startup with a proprietary ammonia-to-hydrogen-to-electrical power system, will take advantage of the unique and favorable circumstances aboard an existing ammonia barge. The fuel for the system is already right there in the cargo tank, and the generator's power will keep the tank refrigerated and the internal pressure low. This speeds up cargo operations when it comes time to offload, meaning higher utilization and profitability for the barge. 

Amogy's system has been used before in a farm tractor and an aerial drone, but this will be the first time it has been used in a commercial maritime application. Southern Devall's barge service makes for a good testbed, since the chicken-or-egg question of fuel availability is already resolved. 

Amogy has secured an AIP from LR for a similar maritime powerpack, so the approval process is expected to go smoothly. The retrofit for the first barge should be completed by the end of 2023.

“In collaboration with [Southern Devall], we’ll have a first-mover advantage in this space through expanded access to the ammonia infrastructure and industry knowledge, setting us on track to demonstrate our platform’s operational capabilities in large maritime vessels," said Seonghoon Woo, the CEO of Amogy. 

After the first integration, Amogy and Southern Devall plan to carry out further retrofits for towing vessels, barges and bunkering barges. 

Amogy's largest installed system to date has a power of about 100 kW, and it plans to scale up to 300 kW for an over-the-road truck application by the end of the year. Its goal is to reach 1 MW by 2023 and 10+ MW - enough for oceangoing ships - by 2025. Backers include Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund and AP Ventures; other maritime project partners include energy trader Trafigura and Amon Maritime.

Last week, Devall Towing and Southern Towing announced that they would merge into an integrated company, Southern Devall. Devall provides primarily coastal services, while Southern is focused on the inland market; together they plan to provide complete coverage for the Western Rivers and the Gulf Coast. The integration process should be completed by the end of 2023.