LONDON (ICIS)--A trio of Japanese shipping companies on Wednesday revealed the signing of a joint R&D agreement for the commercialisation of an ammonia-fuelled ammonia gas carrier (AFAGC).
NYK Line, Japan Marine United Corporation, and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) aim to design and develop a vessel that uses the nitrogen fertilizer as the main fuel.
The firms also plan to develop an ammonia floating storage and regasification barge (A-FSRB).
The announcement follows similar such initiatives in recent months by other engineering technology and shipping firms in a multi-billion dollar race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through new propulsion systems for marine vessels.
On a worldwide basis, around 1.6m tonnes/month of ammonia is currently loaded by more than 60 liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tankers ranging in carrying capacity from 3,000-40,000 tonnes.
"As demand for ammonia fuel is foreseen to expand, the need for a transportation infrastructure for stable supply is expected to increase," the companies said in a joint statement.
"This joint R&D aims not only to utilise ammonia as a marine fuel, but also to establish methods for the mass transportation and supply of ammonia and to become a solution for introducing a mixed combustion of ammonia into coal-fired power stations operated by Japanese electric power companies.
"As a result, the R&D is expected to contribute significantly to the decarbonisation of not only the maritime industry but also the energy industry."
The A-FSRB will be a barge equipped with a floating storage and regasification facility exclusively for ammonia, the trio noted.
"This part of the project is expected to contribute to the early introduction of ammonia fuel by utilising the barge as an alternative to land facilities (storage tanks, regasification facilities, etc.) for the stable supply of ammonia fuel," they added.
Image of an ammonia-fuelled ammonia gas carrier. Photo courtesy of NYK Line