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Infineum explores ammonia as viable zero carbon bunker fuel 

Infineum explores ammonia as a zero carbon marine fuel, challenges across the marine industry supply chain and shares the safe practices Infineum is adopting in its research programme.




Resized Venti Views on Unsplash

Infineum Business Transformation Manager Toby Stein on Tuesday (12 December) released an article exploring ammonia as a viable zero carbon bunker fuel, the challenges across the marine industry supply chain related to its safe storage, bunkering and consumption and shares the safe practices Infineum is adopting in its research programme:

In July 2023, to ensure greenhouse has (GHG) emissions from international shipping do not continue to rise, IMO adopted its revised GHG strategy, which calls for a reduction in CO2 emissions of at least 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2040 compared to 2008. The new levels of ambition also call for the uptake of zero or near zero GHG technologies/fuels/energy sources to represent at least 5% of the energy used by international shipping in 2030. These initiatives are in pursuit of IMO’s net zero by 2050 ambition and to achieve them action must be taken today.

Throughout 2023, fuel consumption reporting for the IMO carbon intensity indicator (CII) has been underway. Ships will receive their first rating from A to D in January, vessels rated D for three consecutive years or rated E must develop and implement corrective actions to achieve the minimum C rating.

In the near term, industry attention is focussed on the most cost effective and easy to implement ways to gain and retain a C or better CII rating.

In addition, with sustainability and net zero ambitions being published by organisations across the marine industry supply chain, the adoption of lower emissions pathways is becoming the key focus of the entire industry.

Reducing carbon today

As we have seen in other transportation modes, the use of low carbon energy sources is an effective GHG reduction strategy. While the marine world is considering a wide range of technical and operational decarbonisation options, fuel selection has some of the greatest potential to reduce GHG emissions in this sector. Currently a range of alternative fuel options are being explored, although each has its own set of challenges and in some cases deeper investment is required in the commercialisation, supply chain and refuelling infrastructure. In the short term, we can expect an uptake of already available lower carbon fuels, such as biofuels, LNG/LPG, ethanol and methanol as the industry transitions towards net-zero.

Given the need for shippers to improve efficiency, reduce running costs, while also ensuring reliable operation, Infineum has invested in the development of marine additive technologies.

Fuel combustion and lubricity improvers, wax and asphaltene management additives and an additive package for 40 BN (base number) marine diesel cylinder lubricants (MDCL) meeting MAN ES category II lubricant standards, have been designed to help create a more sustainable future through innovative chemistry.

A zero carbon future

As we look further ahead, the need to work towards net zero emissions from international shipping by 2050 means other energy sources must be considered.

The three most suitable ultra-low/zero-carbon options for the marine industry are green hydrogen, green ammonia and green methanol – with the latter in use today and ammonia looking to be the most promising zero carbon option. This is largely owing to its comparatively higher energy density and the wealth of existing knowledge on ammonia handling, storage and safety and the existing infrastructure. Two-stroke large engine OEMs, such as MAN ES and WinGD, have signposted their new engine designs and retrofitting strategies to enable ammonia adoption. For example, in July MAN ES announced its successful first running of a two-stroke test engine on ammonia at its Research Centre Copenhagen. The organisation says it broadly expects to hold its delivery timeline for the first ammonia engine, with subsequent operation onboard a commercial vessel from around 2026. In October, Exmar LPG BV announced it will have the first ocean going vessels to be propelled by dual fuel ammonia engines. Engine supplier WinDG says the engines for these two LPG/ammonia carriers will be delivered in Q2 2025 and will be among the first of WinGD’s ammonia-fuelled engines to enter service.

We are also seeing more initiatives to create Green Corridors, which are specific shipping routes where the economics, infrastructure, and logistics of zero- or near-zero emission shipping are more feasible and rapid deployment can be supported by targeted policy and industry action. In its 2022 report on progress, the Global Maritime Organisation says 21 initiatives have emerged around the world. More than 110 stakeholders from across the value chain are engaged in these initiatives, and a significant level of public-private collaboration can be seen. One major example is the Australia-East Asia iron ore trade route where it is thought that ships powered by green ammonia could be deployed by 2028.

And, it’s not only the marine industry that is looking at ammonia as a fuel, there is also growing interest in ammonia as a carbon free fuel for combustion engines used in power generation as well as in mining and long-haul vehicle applications. 

Ammonia - a challenging fuel

Clearly there are advantages to using ammonia, but we can also anticipate a number of new and complex challenges across the marine industry supply chain related to its safe storage, bunkering and consumption. The key concern is that ammonia is extremely toxic to humans, posing a danger to those who handle, store and use the chemical.

m21595 inf insight ammonia table dec 23 1

With technology in the marine world in the early stages of development and testing, there is limited operational experience of ammonia fuelled vessels – which makes definitive answers on safety hard to obtain. However, valuable insights from its use in adjacent industries, for example industrial refrigeration and fertilizer production, along with feasibility studies and safety assessments of proposed vessel designs will help to guide the industry on this journey.

Lloyd’s Register, a leading provider of classification and compliance services to the marine and offshore industries, has identified safer designs, risk assessment and mitigation as paramount in enabling ammonia adoption by the marine sector.

In a report resulting from a collaboration between the Lloyd’s Register Maritime Decarbonisation Hub and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, onboard safety risks of ammonia have been assessed. They have concluded that the risks can be kept within tolerable limits provided the industry can:

  • Ensure suitable and sufficient technical barriers (e.g. ventilation, automation) and administrative safeguards (e.g. personal protection equipment (PPE), safe work practices) are implemented to protect the crew from ammonia risks.
  • Address human factors – e.g. provide specific training/upskilling for operation and maintenance on board and to any personnel other who will interface with the ammonia-powered vessel.
  • Build upon existing maritime experience with gas and carry over learnings from other industries regarding safety handling and storage of ammonia.

With the insightful recommendations and findings from this study, the maritime sector can proactively steer regulatory frameworks, industry guidelines, and best practices towards ensuring that ammonia-fuelled vessels meet acceptable safety standards for crew members.

Sharing safety learnings

Infineum is actively working to understand the hardware and lubrication issues associated with ammonia use in marine vessels. Since safety is the key industry concern at this stage of its deployment, we started our own ammonia studies from a position of safe handling.  

Combining previous experience of using ammonia in a laboratory with external inputs on handling ammonia, we developed a series of engineering and administrative mitigations regarding its use. These are designed to ensure safe environments for our operators using ammonia in both bench and engine tests.

m21595 inf insight ammonia 2 dec 23 1

Drawing parallels with the concerns faced by crew members aboard ammonia-powered vessels, our operators must have a comprehensive understanding of the associated risks and be equipped with essential safety protocols to troubleshoot any potential technical issues that may arise during the operation of test rigs. While the handling of ammonia may not markedly differ from the handling of other hazardous chemicals encountered in a laboratory, along with robust engineering safeguards, the critical emphasis remains on the operator’s vigilance and their proactive approach to safety.

The engineering and administrative mitigations implemented are strongly aligned with Infineum’s commitment towards employees’ safety. We believe that anyone working for Infineum has the right to return home at the end of each day in the same state of health and wellbeing as they began it, and that all incidents, injuries, and occupational illnesses are preventable.

But, we want to go beyond our own area of operations and have taken steps to share our safety practices and insights with customers, OEMs and with others as they embark on testing ammonia as a fuel. In our view, the implementation of safe handling measures across all relevant sectors will accelerate ammonia adoption and research in a safe manner.

Future directions

Our next ammonia feature in Insight will look in more depth at the commercialisation of ammonia powered vessels. We will also explore the in-use challenges the fuel presents to lubricants, the technical barriers that need to be overcome to ensure harms free ship operation, the development and testing work Infineum has undertaken already and the future directions we anticipate

Photo credit: Venti Views on Unsplash / Infineum
Published: 14 December, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

Specs Corporation to be official Auramarine sales rep for fuel supply units in South Korea

This includes its conventional systems, as well as its specialist solutions for methanol and ammonia bunker fuels, and will be applicable for newbuildings, retrofits, commissioning and maintenance services.





Japan: NS United orders methanol-powered bulk carriers

Auramarine, provider of marine fuel supply systems, on Wednesday (15 April) has announced that it has signed a representative agreement with Specs Corporation Ltd., a Korean marine equipment and services provider. 

The firm said the strategic partnership underscores Auramarine’s commitment to delivering solutions to the maritime sector and strengthens the company’s presence in the South Korean market.

Under the terms of the agreement, Specs Corporation will serve as an official Auramarine sales representative for its fuel supply units. This includes its conventional systems, as well as its specialist solutions for methanol and ammonia, and will be applicable for newbuildings, retrofits, commissioning and maintenance services. 

The collaboration will enable Auramarine to leverage Specs Corporation’s extensive network and expertise in providing services to South Korean shipyards, engine manufacturers and ship owners.

John Bergman, CEO of Auramarine, said: “We are delighted to embark on this journey with Specs Corporation as our trusted partner in the important South Korean market.”

“They have been serving engine manufacturers for a long time, have close and collaborative relationships with shipowners and shipyards and a deep knowledge of exactly what is required from fuel supply systems.”

“Importantly, Spec’s established reputation and forward-thinking vision align seamlessly with our own, making them an ideal partner.”

Mr. Leeman Lee, President of Specs Corporation Ltd, also said: “Spec Corporation’s mission is based on providing superior performance, service, and solutions to ensure customer satisfaction.”

“We are delighted to welcome Auramarine to our portfolio of market-leading technologies.”

“We both share the drive to be a part of the energy transition within the industry and this collaboration, which includes fuel supply systems for methanol and ammonia, represents a clear step forward in our commitment to offering cutting-edge solutions to the South Korean maritime industry that drive increased sustainability.” 

Photo credit: Auramarine
Published: 16 May 2024

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Hexagon Energy and Oceania ink MoU on low-emissions ammonia bunkering in Pilbara region

Under the MoU, Hexagon and Oceania will work together in demonstrating feasibility of supply of low-emissions ammonia as a bunker fuel for iron ore bulk carriers via ship-to-ship transfer.





Hexagon Energy and Oceania ink MoU on low-emissions ammonia bunkering in Pilbara region

Hexagon Energy Materials Limited (Hexagon) on Monday (13 May) announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oceania Marine Energy Pty Ltd (Oceania) regarding the potential development of a low-emissions ammonia bunkering business at Dampier, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

While the primary market for the WAH2 Project’s low-emissions ammonia remains substitution of coal in thermal power generation in Japan and South Korea, ammonia bunkering has the potential to be a valuable, additional, domestic market. 

“This would involve the supply of low-emissions ammonia as a fuel for the bulk carriers that ship iron ore exports from Australian producers to customers across Asia,” Hexagon said in an announcement on the Australian Securities Exchange. 

“This collaboration has the potential to create a new Australian business that uses locally-produced low-emissions ammonia to help decarbonise Australia’s iron ore exports.”

Under the MoU, Hexagon and Oceania have committed to work together with the intention of:

  • Demonstrating the feasibility of the supply of low-emissions ammonia as a bunker fuel for iron ore bulk carriers via ship-to-ship transfer;
  • Confirming demand for ammonia bunkering and potential commercial terms;
  • Defining an appropriate development plan; and
  • Engaging with government and other stakeholders.

Hexagon and Oceania will jointly engage with stakeholders (including ship owners, fuel traders, iron ore producers, port authorities and government) to complete their market assessment, develop an appropriate business model and development plan and pursue preliminary offtake agreements for low-emissions ammonia as a bunker fuel. It is envisaged that this work will be completed in Q4 2024.

The MOU has a two-year term to allow for subsequent collaboration past the anticipated final investment decision for Hexagon’s WAH2 Project.

Hexagon’s target remains WAH2 front end engineering design (FEED) entry in mid-2024 following completion of planned technical work and finalisation of conditional commercial agreements for key aspects of the project (noting that a bunkering offtake agreement is not considered a pre-requisite for FEED entry, rather an opportunity to add incremental value during FEED). Confidential negotiations continue and Hexagon intends to have the key agreements in place to support the start of FEED in Q3 2024.

Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hall, said: “This Memorandum of Understanding with Oceania Marine Energy represents another significant step for Hexagon’s WAH2 low-emissions ammonia project.

It offers the opportunity to establish a new bunkering industry in Western Australia that could play a leading role in decarbonising Australia’s iron ore exports for the benefit of Australia and its trading partners in Asia. This opportunity offers market diversity, requires no additional capital expenditure and is complementary to Hexagon’s primary objective of exporting low-emissions ammonia from WAH2 to help decarbonise power generation in Asia.”

“I look forward to making further announcements as Hexagon continues to progress confidential negotiations with key input providers, potential off-takers and strategic partners.”


Photo credit: Hexagon Energy
Published: 14 May, 2024

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Alternative Fuels

DNV white paper: Demand for ammonia as bunker fuel in 2030 is estimated to be 2.3 MTPA

Demand for ammonia as a maritime fuel is modelled to grow from 2.3 MTPA in 2030 to 62 MTPA in 2040, and 245 MTPA in 2050, according to DNV study.





DNV white paper: Demand for ammonia as bunker fuel in 2030 is estimated to be 2.3 MTPA

The demand for ammonia as a maritime fuel in 2030 is estimated to be 2.3 MTPA, increasing rapidly to 62 MTPA in 2040 and 245 MTPA in 2050, according to a new whitepaper by classification society DNV published recently. 

The report added that the maritime sector will use only green and blue ammonia.

The whitepaper, titled Availability of green and blue ammonia in 2030 to 2050 found that that per Q2 2023, the global green and blue ammonia production industry has announced 161 clean ammonia projects with a total production capacity of 244 MTPA.

“Of the announced 244 MTPA, little over a sixth (43 MTPA) is estimated to be available in the balanced scenario. From this, about 14 MTPA is projected to be blue. Green ammonia dedicated to shipping may be in the range of 4–7 MTPA, and 21–31 MTPA will potentially be available across fertilizers, energy, and fuel markets,” the study explained. 

Ammonia for shipping fuel is targeted by 30 projects across 10 countries with a combined output of 20.8 MTPA. Almost all these projects plan for green ammonia. The leading countries are Australia (49% share) and Egypt (33 % share). 

In addition, 93 other projects have announced end-use combinations of fuel and either fertilizer, energy, or both, with combined production amounting to 174 MTPA. If all the announced projects are successful according to their planned onstream date, the possible supply of ammonia for shipping fuel would be in the range 21–195 MTPA, with 21–151 MTPA available in 2030.

DNV said the whitepaper shed light on critical questions regarding the future of ammonia and examined the supply and demand of green and blue ammonia in its latest white paper based on a review of announced ammonia-plant projects and longer-term demand predictions.

In response to the anticipated delivery of ammonia engines, fuel producers are announcing production plants for ammonia that is clean from well to wake.

“So, how will ammonia supply and demand develop towards 2030 and beyond? How will different industries compete for ammonia? And which ammonia types will prevail?,” DNV explained some of the questions they helped to answer. 

Note: The whitepaper can be downloaded here


Photo credit: DNV
Published: 8 May 2024

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