World's Biggest Ammonia Producer Joins Center for Zero-Carbon Shipping

CF Industries' Donaldsonville site, where it is building a 20 megawatt electrolyzer plant (CF Industries)

Published May 17, 2022 12:19 AM by The Maritime Executive

The world's largest producer of ammonia has signed on to the shipping industry's leading clean-fuel technology consortium, the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

The center announced Monday that American ammonia producer CF Industries has signed on as a partner, bringing in a new future-fuel supplier to the consortium. The supply of green hydrogen-based fuels - like green ammonia and green methanol - is one of the primary challenges facing the shipping industry as it works to develop zero-carbon propulsion at scale. 

CF Industries has been making and trading ammonia from conventional natural gas feedstock for decades, and it has plans to bring production of nearly two million tonnes of blue ammonia (carbon capture abatement of conventional production) online by 2024. It recently announced a partnership with Mitsui for a purpose-built blue ammonia plant on the U.S. Gulf Coast, which will emit about 60 percent less carbon dioxide per tonne of production.

In addition, the company is building an electrolyser plant for green ammonia production at Donaldsonville, Louisiana, where CF has a large factory complex. Working with Thyssenkrupp, CF will install 20 megawatts of hydrogen electrolysis capacity, which will feed its output into CF's existing ammonia synthesis plant. Combined with green electricity purchases to cover 100 percent of its energy requirements, this installation will enable 20,000 tons of green ammonia production per year. It will be the first commercial-scale green ammonia plant in North America, according to CF.

Vessel propulsion is one of the many potential applications for reduced-carbon ammonia. The commodity has relatively high energy density and low storage costs, and it can be fed into a solid-oxide fuel cell or burned in a modified diesel engine to produce power. 

"We believe ammonia has an important role to play in the world’s transition to clean energy and is a particularly promising approach for the maritime industry. We look forward to sharing our expertise with the Center and working together to develop the roadmap to decarbonize maritime shipping," said Tony Will, the president and CEO of CF Industries.