Having already rolled out the first-ever ammonia-fueled tractor and the first-ever ammonia-fueled semi-truck in the world, Brooklyn firm Amogy has now gotten hold of a 1957 tugboat and envisions having the world’s first-ever ammonia-powered vessel sailing in 2022.
The tug has an electric drive system fitted initially with electric motors and diesel generators. Amogy will retrofit a 1-MW ammonia generator instead, three times larger than that on the semi.
The technology stays the same now; Amogy seems to have plans for the marine sector. They want to make use of ammonia as a combustion fuel. Still, this assignment will use a cracking reactor to split ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen and then run hydrogen via a fuel cell to yield electricity and feed the electric motors.
Green ammonia, produced from green hydrogen, stands out as a promising clean fuel, particularly for sectors that look hard otherwise or are impossible to decarbonize – areas such as shipping, where chunks of energy are needed, batteries are too bulky and heavy. Gaseous/cryogenic liquid hydrogen is way too hard to handle.
Ammonia is a comparatively dense way of transporting clean energy. Even though it only carries half the energy of an equal amount of diesel, that’s about as good as things get without CO2 emission.
Amogy had best get its skates on if it desired to secure world-first honours; Australia’s Fortescue Future Industries reportedly purchased a 246-ft fluid-carrying vessel back in 2021 and said that at the time, it would have it set up and operating on ammonia sometime last year.
This is yet to eventuate, but Norwegian firm Fraunhofer and Eidesvik are working on another ammonia vessel, the Viking Energy, which is expected to launch in 2022.
These projects are essential; ammonia is one of the most common industrial and agricultural chemicals in the world, but it is yet to prove itself to be a practical bulk fuel for use in transport, and questions remain about whether it is safe or responsible environmentally, to use it to power large vessels provided it is highly caustic and liable to result in significant hazards, especially in any large-scale spills. The pioneering conversions aim to test and prove it as a fuel ecosystem.
References: Interesting Engineering, New Atlas
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