Amogy, a Brooklyn-based company, is set to make waves in the shipping industry by retrofitting a 1957 tugboat to become the world’s first ammonia-powered ship.
The company, which previously rolled out the world’s first ammonia-fueled tractor and semi-truck, plans to retrofit a 1-MW ammonia generator onto the electric drive system of the tugboat. While Amogy has future plans for using ammonia as a combustion fuel in the marine sector, the company will initially use a cracking reactor to split ammonia into hydrogen and nitrogen and then use a fuel cell to convert the hydrogen into electricity to power the electric motors.
Green ammonia, produced using green hydrogen, is a good clean fuel for hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as shipping, where batteries are too heavy and bulky, and gaseous or cryogenic liquid hydrogen is too challenging to handle. Despite carrying only half the diesel energy, ammonia is a relatively dense way of transporting clean energy, making it an attractive option for the shipping industry.
However, there are still concerns about the safety and environmental responsibility of using ammonia in large power ships, given its highly acidic nature and potential for large-scale spills.
The pioneering conversions by Amogy and other companies like Australia’s Fortescue Future Industries and Norwegian company Eidesvik and Fraunhofer seek to test and prove the feasibility of ammonia as a bulk fuel for transport use.
Amogy faces competition from other companies, with Fortescue Future Industries planning to have its 246-ft (75-m) fluid-carrying vessel up and running on ammonia since last year.
Meanwhile, Eidesvik and Fraunhofer are also working on another ammonia ship, Viking Energy, which is expected to launch this year.
Overall, ammonia holds promise as a clean fuel for the shipping industry, and Amogy is poised to make history by retrofitting the world’s first ammonia-powered ship.
While there are still concerns about the safety and environmental implications of using ammonia, the success of pioneering projects like Amogy’s will help to pave the way for a cleaner, more sustainable future in shipping.