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DNV to lead ammonia bunkering safety study

Study aims to address safety gaps that can disrupt the speed and success of the transition to this fuel type

The use of ammonia should be managed properly as the chemical poses a potential safety threat to seafarers and ships

DNV said it had been selected to lead a pioneering ammonia bunkering safety study in Singapore.

It is teaming up with infrastructure developer Surbana Jurong and the Singapore Maritime Academy on the project aimed at accelerating the shipping industry’s decarbonisation efforts.

DNV said that while its research showed ammonia to be one of the most promising fuels to decarbonise global shipping, various safety gaps risked disrupting the speed and success of the transition.

“The safe handling of ammonia is one such gap which urgently needs to be closed, given the threat it poses to seafarers and ships unless properly managed,” said DNV chief executive Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, adding that the study aimed to provide the foundations for “robust ammonia bunkering safety guidelines with industry wide applicability.”

The study, which is being run by the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, will establish safety guidelines and operational benchmarks of a regulatory regime for ammonia bunkering trials at two local sites.

The scope of DNV’s work includes forecasting ammonia demand, recommending bunkering sites, development of conceptual designs of bunkering modes, such as truck to ship, and drafting of technical and operational guidelines.

It has undertaken projects to develop ammonia as a viable marine fuel in the future in response to the growing interest for ammonia-fuelled and ammonia-ready ship designs.

Hoegh Autoliners last year launched DNV’s “fuel ready” notation for its new series of car carriers. The scheme verifies whether a vessel complies with the safety and operational requirements for future ammonia-fuelled operations, and that the main engine can operate on the fuel or be converted.

To assist shipowners moving towards a full zero-carbon fuel option in their newbuildings, DNV came up with its “gas-fuelled ammonia” rules that outline practical steps to achieving the switch.

It has also awarded several approvals in principle for ammonia-fuelled ship designs and it is also co-operating with engine maker MAN Energy Solutions to develop a 2-stroke ammonia engine set to be marketed in 2024.

Cristina Saenz de Santa Maria, the company’s regional manager for southeast Asia, Pacific and India, said safety was the prerequisite for the successful and timely introduction of new fuels, such as ammonia, and “joint research and development, testing and setting standards is crucial.”

According to its Maritime Forecast to 2050 study, DNV expects demonstration projects by 2025 for onboard ammonia use that will pave the way for the commercial deployment by 2030 of zero-carbon ships.

It says that while any future fuel mix will be broad, ammonia and bio-based methanol are the most promising carbon-neutral fuels in the long run.  

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