Eastern Pacific, NTU Singapore to study ammonia as marine fuel

Singapore’s Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) has joined a study with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) to explore the use of ammonia as an alternative marine fuel.

The joint study will cover green ammonia production and supply, ammonia bunkering process, and potential issues arising from adopting ammonia as a marine fuel.

Ammonia is widely viewed as a promising alternative marine fuel for the maritime industry as it has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Related Article

As a bunkering fuel, ammonia presents several opportunities but also several technical challenges, the most important one being its high toxicity.

When it comes to bunkering ammonia, there are three options:

  • a tank lorry- not a proper solution due to the needed quantity of ammonia/speed of loading for a large seagoing ship
  • ammonia terminal- accessibility for large cargo ships very limited
  • bunkering vessel – most feasible option

The bunkering process is not expected to differ too much from the process of ammonia cargo loading, especially since ship-to-ship loading is possible. Consequently, the technical details such as ship-to-ship connections for cargo and bunkering operations should not differ much.

For the study, EPS, one of the largest managers of gas carriers, will be lending its expertise in the loading, transporting, and discharging of gas, including ammonia, as a cargo.

EPS has ten mid to large size gas carriers on water, and another twelve mid, large, and very large gas carrier newbuilds set to be delivered between 2022 and 2023.

The company has already been very active on the front of the development of zero-carbon fuels as part of its decarbonization efforts. In March, the shipowner partnered up with Dutch OCI N.V. and engine manufacturer MAN Energy Solutions to develop methanol and ammonia as marine fuels.

Furthermore, EPS’ involvement in the study comes on the heels of the company entering a partnership that will fund a Maritime Decarbonisation Centre in Singapore.

“Our collaboration with EPS leverages NTU’s strength as a global leader in sustainability research and is in line with MESD’s focus on alternative fuel research for the maritime industry. This study comes at a right time with ammonia as a key potential marine fuel. We hope this collaborative effort will contribute to Singapore’s long-term maritime decarbonisation strategy for a more sustainable Maritime Singapore,” Professor Jasmine Lam, Director of the Maritime Energy & Sustainable Development (MESD) Centre of Excellence, NTU Singapore, said.

“As a leading tonnage provider, EPS has a responsibility to use whatever means necessary to lower our emissions today. Simultaneously we are committed to sharing our findings, best practices, and technical expertise to develop better solutions for tomorrow,” Cyril Ducau, CEO of EPS, noted.

The roll-out of ammonia is likely to be faced with a similar scenario as it was the case with LNG, when ships were ready much earlier than the land-side operations and infrastructure.

Trying to get ahead of the curve, industry major Maersk has teamed up with several companies from the sector on setting up the necessary bunkering infrastructure to make ammonia a reality.

The project participants plan to carry out a feasibility study aimed at establishing a comprehensive supply chain for the provision of green ammonia ship-to-ship bunkering at the Port of Singapore.

MPA plans to use its experience as a bunkering hub and flag state to gather insights on safety issues and ammonia bunkering procedures, and serve as a testing lab in developing ammonia as marine fuel as it was the case with LNG.