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Ammonia

Study: Safe ammonia bunkering is ‘economically and operationally viable’ within Pilbara region

Study, commissioned by Yara and Pilbara Ports, was undertaken by Lloyds Register, and looked at key areas including the estimated demand and likely availability of ammonia as a replacement bunker fuel.

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Pilbara Ports Authority on Monday (6 November) said a feasibility study has highlighted the potential for using clean ammonia to refuel ships, particularly iron ore carriers, visiting the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The study, commissioned by Yara Clean Ammonia (Yara) and Pilbara Ports, was undertaken by classification society Lloyds Register, and looked at key areas including the estimated demand and likely availability of ammonia as a replacement shipping fuel. The potential risks and regulatory requirements for ammonia bunkering (refueling) at the ports were also considered.

Key results of the study show that safe ammonia bunkering is both economically and operationally viable within the Pilbara region.

The study indicated that ship-to-ship bunkering operations could be performed within acceptable risk levels at anchorages in Dampier and Port Hedland. Moreover, the study confirms that existing ammonia production and export infrastructure within the Pilbara, such as Yara’s Karratha plant and Pilbara Ports’ Bulk Liquids Berth at Dampier, could be leveraged to initiate bunkering operations in the near-term.

The results also show the demand for ammonia as a fuel to decarbonise the international iron ore trade, reaching a volume potential of 1 million to 1.5 million tonnes in 2035.

Yara Clean Ammonia Senior Vice President Commercial Murali Srinivasan said the level of demand reflected the push by iron ore miners and the steel industry to decarbonise.

“The study has shown that a key enabler for meeting this demand is Yara’s existing assets including the world-scale Yara Pilbara Fertilizers ammonia plant near Karratha. Furthermore, the current development of Yuri renewable hydrogen project on the Yara Pilbara site will be the first in Australia to inject green molecules into an existing ammonia plant, and Yara is vigorously exploring options to ramp up volumes of clean and low carbon ammonia to lay the foundation for a reliable supply chain to serve the emerging shipping fuel market.” Mr Srinivasan said.

Pilbara Ports Chief Executive Officer Samuel McSkimming said that, with the carbon reduction efforts in the steel industry supply chain, bulk carriers are a natural starting point for the early adoption of alternative marine fuels.

“The Pilbara contains the world’s largest bulk export ports. Last year we achieved 752.4 million tonnes of trade with more than 6,829 vessel visits. This scale of operations cannot be found anywhere else in the world, and it makes the Pilbara’s ports the natural beachhead from which the global bulk carrier fleet will decarbonise,” Mr McSkimming said.

“The study is an important step towards implementing safe ship to ship ammonia bunkering at our anchorages in Dampier and Port Hedland.

“Ammonia is already widely produced, used, and shipped in industrial quantities around the world. To be able to expand its application as a green shipping fuel would greatly reduce shipping emissions.”

A domestic bunkering industry in the Pilbara would also create new industry and job opportunities for Western Australia and the Pilbara community.

“We are proud to contribute to a green transition in the Pilbara region and more broadly in the global shipping industry. Pilbara Ports is progressing on several strategically significant projects, including major port infrastructure upgrades at Dampier and Port Hedland, to support the production of clean fuels in the Pilbara,” Mr McSkimming said

Pilbara Ports and Yara plan to continue working together as first movers to enable safe  ammonia bunkering in the Pilbara as the switch to zero-carbon shipping materializes.

Related: LR chosen to conduct feasibility study on Pilbara potential for ammonia bunkering

Photo credit: Pilbara Ports Authority
Published: 7 November, 2023

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Additives

Infineum: Using liquid methanol fuels in heavy-duty and marine engines

Paul Cooper and Joanna Hughes from Gane Energy talk about advantages of using liquid methanol fuels in internal combustion engines and how fuel additives can help to overcome challenges of using methanol as a fuel.

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Infineum marine fuels additives receive performance recognition from Lloyd’s Register

International fuel additives company Infineum on Tuesday (9 July) published an article on its Insight website of Paul Cooper and Joanna Hughes from Gane Energy, sharing about the advantages of using liquid methanol fuels in internal combustion engines and how fuel additives can help to overcome some of the challenges of using methanol:

End users and OEMs in both the maritime and heavy-duty vehicle/engine industries are exploring the ways alternative fuels, such as methanol, ammonia and hydrogen, can help them to meet tightening emissions regulations and decarbonisation targets. 

Gane Energy, a fuel development and licensing company based in Melbourne, Australia, has a vision to provide a clear pathway to carbon neutrality through a cost-effective, readily available, low-risk alternative to diesel which can leverage existing infrastructure. To that end it has developed a liquid methanol fuel, for use in heavy-duty and marine engines, that it is now working to commercialise. Gane Energy's fuel is made from methanol (CH3OH), water,  a small amount of di-methyl ether (CH3OCH3) along with performance fuel additives. So, given Gane Energy's work in this area, we asked them what they consider to be the environmental benefits of using liquid methanol fuel instead of diesel fuel or marine fuel oils?

Joanna said: “Now methanol is the simplest alcohol. It does not have any carbon-carbon bonds and fundamentally does not produce any soot when it combusts. Furthermore, the temperature of combustion of methanol in an engine is lower than with the classic long chain hydrocarbon fuels. And that lower temperature of combustion means that you produce dramatically lower NOx.”

“And that has a natural advantage of course in terms of emissions to air, but what it also means is that for end users or customers, the exhaust aftertreatment that you have to carry on your ship or implement with your engine are significantly reduced. Or in some cases, for example using Gane Fuel, they can be avoided altogether and still meet regulated emissions levels.”

“If methanol is made from renewable sources, then effectively the CO2 that is captured in the fuel is then released when it's burned in the ship. And so from a net basis, the methanol as a fuel is carbon neutral, so not adding any net CO2 to the atmosphere.”

One of the challenges associated with methanol use, particularly in marine applications, has been the need to use a pilot fuel to ignite it in the engine. While the majority of the energy to power the vessel is supplied by methanol this approach still uses a significant quantity of conventional fuel, which means it is not ideal in a world looking to decarbonise. But, as Paul explains, progress has been made on this front and, by using a different approach, they have been able to remove the need for a pilot fuel.

Paul, said: “So the approach we've taken is that we take a small quantity of the methanol in Gane Fuel and we pass it over a catalyst and we convert it through that process to dimethyl ether.”

“What we do with that is we put that in the inlet air as a fumigant, and that comes in with the air and creates the conditions that when the piston rises and that creates the heat, the DME ignites, and then the methanol, which is in our fuel, is supplied under high pressure into the cylinder, and that creates the event to enable the methanol to combust. So we achieve through the use of Gane Fuel, a combustion of methanol without requiring a diesel pilot fuel.”

Methanol vs hydrogen and ammonia

Methanol is not the only alternative fuel option available to the maritime and commercial vehicle industries. Ammonia and hydrogen are also being explored by many OEMs as potential options to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and it looks likely that we can expect a multi-fuel, multi technology future. Currently, Joanna estimates that some one billion tonnes a year of diesel-like products are used, that could potentially be substituted with such alternatives. To achieve the progress that is needed in terms of decarbonisation, she believes it's important that there are multiple solutions available. With this in mind we asked her to share some of the benefits methanol has vs hydrogen and ammonia.

“I think one of the most important points is the technology readiness level. Methanol is in use today as a marine fuel, and so our speed at which we can transition to net carbon neutrality is greatly enhanced through adopting and continuing to accelerate the adoption of methanol in these industries,” said Joanna. 

“I think the other point in terms of methanol versus ammonia and hydrogen that's important to bring out is the supply chain. Methanol is a liquid at ambient conditions. So in terms of the fuel suppliers, but also very importantly in terms of the end users, the ability to transport and store methanol is significantly easier and lower cost than the same task as required for ammonia or hydrogen.”

Future directions

There has been a good uptake of methanol in the marine industry and the order book for new methanol capable vessels is growing. Data published by DNV shows that almost 16% of the ships on order are alternatively fuelled vessels with methanol out in front in new contracts in the last 12 months. However, cutting the data by how much the ship can carry (DWT), excluding LNG carriers, then almost 32% on order are alternatively fuelled vessels.

Infineum: Using liquid methanol fuels in heavy-duty and marine engines

But, it’s not only these new vessels that can benefit from the emissions reduction benefits that running on methanol brings. Joanna says that the fact ships can be retrofitted to run on methanol is important for two reasons.

“One is in terms of the potential to accelerate our transition to carbon neutrality, and the second is the efficiency or the economic efficiency, but also in terms of materials of being able to leverage existing infrastructure. And by that I mean existing infrastructure in terms of a liquid fuel to transport and store. And also in terms of the existing infrastructure in terms of the engines,” said Joanna. 

Additives support alternative fuels

As the use of methanol grows in various transportation applications, the use of high quality fuel additives will be vital to ensure hardware protection.

“Methanol as a fuel offers many advantages in terms of the combustion properties, the emissions. It does give rise to certain issues that need to be addressed, specifically lubricity and potentially corrosivity as well. And I think these are the two key areas where additives can be helpful,” said Paul.

Lubricity improver additives create a protective film on the metal surfaces, which reduces friction and wear. This not only ensures smoother engine operation but also prolongs the lifespan of engine components. Corrosion inhibitor additives form a barrier between the methanol fuel and the surface of the metal to prevent corrosion-related damage.

Alternative fuels, such as methanol, ammonia and hydrogen will have a key role to play in the drive to decarbonise the internal combustion engine. Infineum is fully committed to ensuring that suitable fuel and lubricant additives are ready to support the introduction of these alternative fuels to the global market.

Note: Watch the videos featuring Paul Cooper and Joanna Hughes from Gane Energy and read full article here

 

Photo credit: Infineum
Published: 11 July 2024

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Alternative Fuels

Singapore: MPA and NYK partnership to include green bunker fuel training programmes

Both signed a MoU to deepen their partnership and will include promoting the safe use of bunker fuels such as biofuels, methanol and low or zero-carbon ammonia through a phased approach.

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Singapore: MPA and NYK partnership to include green bunker fuel training programmes

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Tuesday (9 July) said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) to deepen their partnership and accelerate maritime decarbonisation, digitalisation, and manpower development efforts. 

In line with the International Maritime Organization’s revised Greenhouse Gas strategy 2023, the Paris Agreement, and international energy and climate targets, MPA and NYK will collaborate on various initiatives aimed at promoting a sustainable maritime industry. 

The partnership will include promoting the safe use of maritime fuels such as biofuels, methanol and low or zero-carbon ammonia through a phased approach. 

The MoU was signed by Mr Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive, MPA, and Mr Takaya Soga, President and Group Chief Executive, NYK, on 2 July 2024.

Both parties will discuss maritime training programmes for seafarers on ammonia-fuelled vessels and other sustainability-related skills and competencies to support the industry’s transition towards alternative low or zero- carbon fuels, including leadership programs for local professionals.

Mr Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive of MPA, said: “This MoU marks a significant milestone in the longstanding partnership between MPA and NYK. As a major bunkering and a maritime hub port, Singapore is in a phase of introducing alternative fuels and enhancing manpower development.”

“MPA looks forward to our partnership with NYK to unlock our collective potential and develop solutions that can be scaled up to benefit the global maritime community in the move towards smart and sustainable shipping.”

Mr Takaya Soga, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYK, said: “NYK has been proactively working on decarbonisation initiatives, digitalisation, and maritime human resource development to materialise a sustainable maritime industry.”

“We have begun ammonia-fuel-related business development including bunkering projects, endorsing the Singaporean government's initiative on fuel ammonia. Singapore plays a significant role in the maritime industry as the world's largest hub port for trans-shipment and bunkering.”

“We are delighted to conclude this MoU with MPA as we share the same goals. This MoU will accelerate cooperation between MPA and NYK and contribute to the sustainable development of the maritime industry.”

 

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 10 July, 2024

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Ammonia

Trafigura: First ammonia STS transfer demonstrates feasibility of ammonia bunkering

Firm’s first STS transfer of ammonia demonstrates feasibility of ammonia bunkering in the future as demand grows for hydrogen-based low carbon fuels, says Andrea Olivi, Head of Wet Freight for Trafigura.

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Trafigura: First ammonia STS transfer demonstrates feasibility of ammonia bunkering

Commodity trading firm Trafigura Group Pte Ltd (Trafigura) on Monday (1 July) said it has successfully completed its first ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of ammonia. 

This took place last week in international waters close to the port of Ceuta in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Approximately 6,000 metric tonnes of ammonia (NH3), supplied by CF Industries from their Donaldsonville, Louisiana-based manufacturing complex, was safely transferred between Medium Gas Carrier (MGC) Green Power owned by ship owner/operator Purus on time charter to Trafigura, and Small Gas Carrier Gas Aegean

The shipment will be received by Fertiberia for the production of fertiliser.

The STS operation was conducted by International Fender Provider (IFP) in line with current regulations. STS transfers are commonly used for other commodities to load cargo onto more suitable vessels for delivery to the destination, however until recently have not been widely adopted by the ammonia industry.

“Our first safe and efficient ship-to-ship transfer of ammonia supports our growing ammonia trading activity. Importantly, it demonstrates the feasibility of ammonia bunkering in the future as demand grows for the hydrogen-based low carbon fuels that will enable the shipping industry to decarbonise,” said Andrea Olivi, Head of Wet Freight for Trafigura.

In May 2024, Trafigura signed a contract for four MGCs that will be capable of using low-carbon ammonia as a propulsion fuel when delivered. The vessels will be built at HD Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan, South Korea, with the first ship to be delivered in 2027.

"We are proud to partner with Trafigura on this historic STS with Green Power, one of our seven modern MGCs for ammonia transport. This STS transfer demonstrates our capability to offer customers end-to-end floating pipeline solutions for energy transition cargoes that can offer greater flexibility and speed-to-market than conventional onshore storage tanks, accelerating the clean energy transition," said a spokesperson from Purus.

Trafigura is one of the world’s largest charterers of vessels, responsible for more than 5,000 voyages a year with around 400 ships currently under management. 

The company has committed to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of its shipping fleet by 25 percent by the end of FY2030, against the 2019 IMO benchmark. Since 2020, Trafigura has led the industry in calling for a global carbon levy on marine fuels to incentivise and accelerate the uptake of low-carbon marine fuels.

Trafigura said its shipping team is one of the few operators to have tested a full range of alternative shipping fuels including LNG, methanol, LPG and biofuels on its owned and chartered vessels. 

It has co-sponsored the development of a two-stroke engine by MAN Energy Solutions that can run on low carbon ammonia and is also investing in on-board emissions capture technology.

 

Photo credit: Trafigura
Published: 2 July, 2024

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