Ammonia represents a viable marine fuel option for shipping's decarbonization

The importance of reducing the impact of shipping on climate is well recognized by the industry and regulatory bodies. It is also the main target of the IMO’s carbon emission reduction strategy. Most experts consider the introduction of alternative fuels as a key success factor.

To date it is not clear which low-CO2 emissions fuel will drive the decarbonization of the marine sector: biofuels, ammonia, hydrogen or nuclear. The final choice will not be made by the maritime industry alone and will be heavily dependent on the evolution of the onshore industry’s decarbonization path.

Based on IGF Code where goals and functional requirements are established for ships using gases or other low-flashpoint fuels, the rules follow the same pattern of IGF Code requirements for LNG. They carefully consider the ammonia toxic characteristics and adopt general preventive measures to be confirmed and completed by an extensive risk assessment to be carried out on the specific arrangement under consideration.

Ammonia is not ready for bunkering in all ports as it should be for an immediate and widespread use, but the design of a new ship can already be developed to consider how the vessel can be arranged to be fueled by ammonia. For this reason, in addition to the above-mentioned rules, RINA has also published the requirements to get an additional class notation “Ammonia Ready” on a traditionally fueled ship.

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