Analytical Instrumentation

  • What is Ammonia Fuel?

What is Ammonia Fuel?

Apr 28 2020 Read 401 Times

In a fresh new attempt to minimise the environmental footprint of the maritime industry, operators are trialling the use of retrofitted vessels that run on ammonia fuel cells. The Viking Energy, an LNG-fuelled platform supply vessel (PSV) operated by Norwegian shipping company Eidesvik, will be the first ship to be fitted with the innovative, zero-emissions technology.

The Viking Energy set sail in 2003 and served as a PSV for Norwegian multinational energy company Equinor for more than 15 years. Now, engineers are modifying the ship to run on a 2 MW direct ammonia fuel cell. When combusted in the right way, ammonia generates energy with nothing but water and nitrogen as by-products.

"Together with Equinor, we are now launching a full-scale research project to test a propulsion solution based on fuel cells running on pure and emission-free ammonia. The goal is to install fuel cell modules with a total power of 2 MW on board Viking Energy in 2024," says Jan Fredrik Meling, CEO of Eidesvik Offshore. "This will make the vessel the world's first emission-free supply vessel."

Eidesvik champions a new green shipping fuel

The retrofit process will take five years, with the cutting-edge technology requiring further development before being installed in the Viking Energy. If all goes to plan, the newly retrofitted Viking Energy should be back on the seas by 2024. Eidesvik says the goal is to champion ammonia as a green shipping fuel and prove that it is possible for big vessels to complete long-distance voyages with no emissions. When powered by the 2 MW direct ammonia fuel cell, the vessel will be able to sail for 3000 hours a year with no environmental footprint.

Slashing maritime emissions

Currently, the commercial maritime industry contributes to around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Without an overhaul, the International Maritime Organisation warns greenhouse emissions could increase by up to 250% by 2050.  If the project is successful, the concept of ammonia fuel could transform the maritime industry and eliminate the need for heavy, high emission fuels.

The maritime industry isn't the only sector working to minimise emissions, with artificial photosynthesis currently being explored as a potential solution for generating eco-friendly energy. With commentary from Dr. Raj Shah, Ms. Shana Braff and David Phillips on behalf of Koehler Instrument Company, 'Artificial photosynthesis may plant the seeds for a more sustainable future' spotlights how scientists around the world are attempting to transform solar energy into a limitless photosynthetic fuel source. 

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