Mar 7, 2023 | Maritime & emissions research news

Amogy, a US company developing ammonia as a clean fuel for heavy transport applications, has announced plans to launch an ammonia-powered, zero-emission tugboat in late 2023.

The company believes that getting the first ammonia-powered vessel on the water will signal a huge milestone in the journey to zero-emissions shipping, as ammonia is predicted to become the leading fuel source for the world’s giant cargo ships by 2050.

Amogy is currently retrofitting a tugboat that was originally built in 1957, that uses diesel generators and electric motors, with its ammonia-to-power system. It will be outfitted with a 1MW version of the system, three times larger than the system field-tested an ammonia-fueled truck earlier in 2023. Amogy’s ammonia-to-power technology feeds liquid ammonia through its cracking modules integrated into a hybrid fuel cell system, which powers the electric motors for zero-carbon shipping.

Amogy CEO Seonghoon Woo said: “We’re incredibly proud of unveiling the first ammonia-powered vessel later this year — especially because of the hope, promise and anticipation that ammonia has built as a zero-emission fuel in the heavy transportation industry — specifically in regards to maritime shipping. This is the first milestone of many you will see from Amogy in accelerating the accessibility and scalability of clean energy in the global maritime industry. With successful demonstrations of our ammonia-powered drone, tractor and semi-truck under our belts, we look forward to presenting the first ammonia-powered ship in 2023, with a target to fully  commercialise in 2024.”

Yara Clean Ammonia (YCA), one of the world’s largest ammonia producers, and the largest trader and shipper of ammonia, will be providing green ammonia for the demonstration. Ammonia, which does not emit CO2 when used as a fuel, is expected to become a next-generation fuel as it contains properties ideally suited for the hydrogen economy. Furthermore, green ammonia, which is produced with renewable energy, results in zero greenhouse gas emissions from ‘well to wake’.

Magnus Ankarstrand, President YCA, said: “We are excited to be a part of Amogy’s tugboat project and to deliver green ammonia as a fuel for the world’s first vessel powered by ammonia. Yara Clean Ammonia plans to launch the world’s first Ammonia Bunker Network in Scandinavia, which is expected to expand YCA’s capacity to produce and ship ammonia globally.”

Other partners that are collaborating to bring the first ammonia-powered ship to life include Seam, Amogy’s electrical systems integrator, C-Job Naval Architects, an independent ship design company integrating the ammonia system, and Feeney Shipyard, from which Amogy sourced the tugboat, and will lead retrofitting construction, engine removal and other work under supervision of C-Job Naval Architects.  Additionally, Amogy is working with Unique Technical Solutions (UTS), its electrical and systems integrator from prior demonstrations, for the electrical and systems work involved in scaling up the powerpack for pre-commercial use.

Amogy says it has a deep commitment to safety and compliance, working with the US Coast Guard and partnering with classification society DNV to ensure close alignment with all maritime safety standards.

DNV Senior Consultant in Maritime Environmental Technology, Hans-Christian Wintervoll, said: “DNV has been working with Amogy since December 2021, focusing on the safety aspects of the development of their ammonia system. A high-level feasibility study was executed in early 2022, and Amogy has shown great momentum in development from that point, through the Hazid workshop in June the same year, to the Hazop workshop in January this year. DNV is pleased to contribute to their continued success.”

To date, Amogy has raised US$ 70m in funding from strategic investors such as Amazon, Saudi Aramco, SK Innovation, AP Ventures and DCVC. Amogy intends to sail the tugboat later in 2023 in upstate New York, pending further safety testing and regulatory discussions.

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