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Building Confidence in Ammonia: How Can We Build Confidence in Ammonia as a Marine Fuel?

Key Focus Area:

Green Technology & Decarbonisation

Ammonia is a viable zero-emission marine fuel. It can help meet greenhouse gas reduction targets set by governments, and a recent survey of shipping sector stakeholders by Lloyd’s List – the maritime publication – and LR identified ammonia as one of the top three potential fuels for 2050.

However, ammonia’s toxicity and lethality are significant challenges to increased adoption. Ammonia leaks can happen during bunkering or fuel combustion, either due to operational errors or mechanical failures. Acute Exposure Guidelines for ammonia have been established but might not be contextualised to the maritime environment.
Characteristics of Ammonia Fuel

  • Easier to store and transport and has ten times the energy density of a lithium-ion battery (IEEE Spectrum, 2021)
  • Sustainable, but might not be entirely net-zero depending on its production
  • Exposure to ammonia over time is toxic and potentially fatal
  • Leakages may happen onboard ship and during bunkering process

Detection Technology

  • Commonly used detection solutions are less sensitive than the human nose. (5ppm is the minimum level for the human nose to detect ammonia).

Post-detection workflow

  • Current regulatory approvals require the submission of Quantitative Risk Assessments. Additionally, there is a need for regulatory agencies to establish robust procedures and capabilities for effective emergency response. Early warning systems to alert first responders of ammonia leakage will be an important operational tool.

Desired Outcome
Could include training crew, developing highly sensitive and digitalised sensors suited to the ship environment (and ideally wearables for the crew), and improving safety workflows in accordance with Class guidelines on ammonia limits. Successful solutions will be more sensitive to ammonia than the human nose, be digitalised for immediate feedback, account for both intensity and exposure time, prompt individual emergency response, and address various ship configurations and different safety scenarios.

Market Potential

  • Maritime industry experts expect ammonia usage to grow to 7% of fuel by 2030 and 20% by 2050 (Lloyd’s Register, 2021)
  • Global green ammonia market size was valued at USD 151.57 million in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 116.5% from 2023 to 2030 (Grand View Research, 2023)

Call for Proposals for this Innovation Opportunity is now closed.