The aim of the Ammonfuel report is to provide the shipowners with a general overview about the ammonia as a product and its applicability as a marine fuel. The members of the working group contribute to the white paper by their direct expertise in various fields of the entire process: from the renewable energy generation, allowing the production of a zero-carbon footprint ammonia, to the distribution and the use onboard as a fuel. In this way, the white paper can provide the owners with a solid and up to date overview of the applicability, the scalability and the sustainability of the ammonia fueled ship.
First of all, the physical properties, the storage conditions and the safety aspects of ammonia are described and compared with those of the other substances that are considered as possible alternative fuels. The further comparison with the same properties of the HFO currently in use is provided as a benchmark.
The white paper provides a picture of the current production of ammonia supplied by the energy from the fossil fuels (the so called conventional ammonia) and analyzes the possibility to implement a supply chain powered by renewable energy only (producing the so called green ammonia). Based on a scenario where the 30% of the shipping industry is converted to this fuel, the study assesses the required amount of the product and the consequent demand of renewable energy and of territory to secure it. With this target in mind, the scalability of the process is analyzed and confirmed. The ammonia is produced in bulk worldwide and history demonstrates that the industry has always been able to quickly resize according to the product demand. Moreover, today a significant production over capacity is available to sustain the initial request of the product for the marine propulsion, making the smooth introduction of this fuel in the shipping industry possible with stable costs and availability. The later and progressive shift to the production based on the green energy will make possible the achievement of the zero-carbon footprint as aimed by the IMO strategy. Once this process will be complete, the study foresees that the cost to fuel a ship with green ammonia will be similar to that of the compliant fuel, while the cost of today’s conventional ammonia is already comparable, confirming the sustainability of the ammonia powered shipping industry. The introduction of marked based tools like the renewable energy certificates that are already in use for other products, can further sustain and promote a profitable implementation of the green ammonia fuel onboard the ships.
The white paper also analyzes the gathered experience about the handling and the use of the product. Ammonia is mainly used as a fertilizer in the agriculture, but also as a refrigerant, and is distributed worldwide by means like trucks, trains, ships and pipelines. Today, thanks to the safety procedures, the training of the personnel and the huge experience, the level of safety has proved to be high, regardless of the extreme wide spread of the product and of the variety of users.
The massive use of the product also needs a wide logistic chain in place. Today the ammonia can count on a huge amount of facilities in the world: 120 ports are already dealing with the import and the export of the product, and sometimes can count on their own storage facilities. These infrastructures represent an excellent starting point for securing the availability of the ammonia fuel for those ships adopting it as forerunners. As for the LNG, the product availability can be further enhanced by gas carriers used as bunker barges, allowing a quick implementation of the bunkering facilities where the product demand is, with bunkering procedures similar to those of the LNG.
Finally, the white paper analyzes how the ammonia can be practically handled onboard and burnt in a reciprocating engine. The industry is developing now the ammonia engine, with a clear roadmap to have it implemented within 2024. The dual fuel technology is the well-proven solution to burn this product and, thanks to the possibility to use a variable mix of alternative and traditional fuel, it offers a further possibility to progressively introduce the ammonia in the ship propulsion.
Furthermore, the solutions adopted for the LNG and LPG fuels provide a solid starting point for the specific implementation of the engine room safety measures and of the fuel supply process respectively.