Cracking Ammonia: panel wrap-up from the Ammonia Energy Conference

When should we be cracking ammonia? How much should we be cracking? How could better cracking technologies open up new end uses? What are the critical challenges still to be overcome for cracking ammonia? On November 17, 2020, the Ammonia Energy Association (AEA) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Bill David from Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), as well as panel members Josh Makepeace from the University of Birmingham, Joe Beach from Starfire Energy, Gennadi Finkelshtain from GenCell Energy, Camel Makhloufi from ENGIE, and Michael Dolan from Fortescue as part of the recent Ammonia Energy Conference. All panelists agreed that cracking technology as it stands has a number of key areas to be optimised, particularly catalyst improvements and energy efficiency. But, successful demonstrations of modular, targeted cracking solutions are accelerating the conversation forward.


Marine Ammonia: panel wrap-up from the 2020 Ammonia Energy Conference

What action is needed to unlock the enormous potential of green ammonia as a marine fuel and get the new generation of ammonia-powered vessels on the water? On November 18, 2020, the Ammonia Energy Association (AEA) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Sofia Fürstenberg Stott from Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory, as well as panel members Tue Johannessen from the Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, Katharine Palmer from Lloyd’s Register, Rob Stevens from Yara International, and Kazumasa Taruishi from NYK Energy Transport.


A marine fuel standard for Ammonia – an engine designers perspective

The presentation will discuss the challenges for operation on ammonia from an engine designers perspective and show the preliminary fuel standard for ammonia for the MAN Energy Solution ME-LGIA two-stroke engine. The presentation will also discuss drivers for change in the marine industry, and what is required for reaching zero-carbon shipping. A recent MAN-ES technical paper on use of ammonia in two-stroke maritime engines is available here.


US Senators Show Strong Interest in Ammonia-Fueled Shipping

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), recently hosted a hearing on offshore energy technologies. I was invited to testify on technology and policy options for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the marine shipping sector, and I used the opportunity to spotlight ammonia's central role in that effort.


Picking bunker winners: the mono-fuel / dual-fuel duel

This week, DNV GL published its annual Maritime Forecast to 2050, concluding that “e-ammonia, blue ammonia and bio-methanol are the most promising carbon-neutral fuels in the long run.” DNV GL’s assumptions that determine this long run, however, suggest a significant mid-term reliance on fossil LNG. This risks locking the industry into a long-term emissions trajectory incompatible with the IMO’s 2050 GHG targets, in part because of significant fuel supply and infrastructure investments. These investments could become more ‘sticky’ than expected. A host of alternative opinions have been published in the days before and after DNV GL published its report. These suggest that, for ammonia, the long run could begin this decade. Among others, MAN ES has announced that its ammonia engine will be available for retrofits by 2025.


Japan’s NYK and partners to develop ammonia fueled and fueling vessels

In recent weeks, the Japanese shipping company NYK Line has announced a series of high-profile research and development collaborations that aim to establish ammonia fueled vessels and fuel supply. Its partners in these projects include classification society Class NK, engine manufacturer IHI Power Systems, and shipbuilder Japan Marine United Corporation. Three vessel types have been announced, so far, including an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier, an ammonia barge for offshore bunkering, and an ammonia-fueled tugboat (for navigating the barge). Pushing beyond the initial research phase, these collaborations aim for commercialization and to put these vessels “into practical use.”


Wärtsilä, Repsol, and Knutsen to test ammonia four-stroke engine

This week, engine manufacturer Wärtsilä announced “the world’s first long term, full-scale, testing of ammonia as a fuel in a marine four-stroke combustion engine.” The project will begin in the first quarter of 2021, at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre’s testing facilities at Stord, Norway. It is supported by a NOK 20 million (USD 2 million) grant from the Norwegian Research Council.


Maersk and partners launch Center for Zero Carbon Shipping

This morning, the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping was announced. Launched with a “start-up donation” of DKK 400 million (USD 60 million) from the A.P. Møller Foundation, this new research institute intends “to develop new fuel types and technologies,” to decarbonize the maritime sector. Behind the Center for Zero Carbon Shipping is a significant industrial consortium with seven founding members (actively seeking additional partners): ABS, A.P. Moller – Maersk, Cargill, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NYK Lines, and Siemens Energy.


Maritime Ammonia: ready for demonstration

At least four major maritime ammonia projects have been announced in the last few weeks, each of which aims to demonstrate an ammonia-fueled vessel operating at sea. In Norway, Color Fantasy, the world's largest RORO cruise liner, will pilot ammonia fuel. Across the broader Nordic region, the Global Maritime Forum has launched NoGAPS, a major consortium that aims to deploy "the world's first ammonia powered deep sea vessel" by 2025. In Japan, a new industry consortium has launched that goes beyond on-board ship technology to include "owning and operating the ships, supplying ammonia fuel and developing ammonia supply facilities." And the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), which published its roadmap last month, aims to demonstrate ammonia fuel on "an actual ship from 2028" — specifically, a 80,000 dwt ammonia-fueled bulk carrier.


Environmental and Economic Assessment of Ammonia as a Fuel for Ships

This month, the Korean Register published a comparative assessment of the environmental and economic merits of using ammonia as a maritime fuel. The work, written in collaboration with researchers at Pusan National University, is published in the open-access Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. It concludes that "ammonia can be a carbon-free fuel for ships," and presents "a meaningful approach toward solving GHG problems in the maritime industry."