Ammonia barge

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding eyes commercialization of its ammonia bunkering vessel

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, a Yokohama-based subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has completed a conceptual study for an ammonia bunkering vessel in collaboration with INPEX Corporation.

Image credit Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

The vessel will be capable of supplying ammonia fuel to ships and the project is being pursued amid the growing popularity of ammonia as a clean energy source with no CO2 emissions. The trend has resulted in increasing demand for ammonia-fueled ships, with the first ones expected to hit the market in a couple of years.

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Mitsubishi Shipbuilding has made use of its ample knowledge of the design and production of multi-purpose liquefied gas carriers, which are capable of transporting ammonia, in furthering conceptual considerations for a highly flexible ammonia bunkering vessel having enough tank capacity, ship maneuverability, and bunkering equipment that ensures compatibility with various ammonia-fueled vessels expected to be served,” the company said.

The shipbuilder plans to move forward with further technical investigations and aim for the commercialization of the vessel.

Mitsubishi has also recently completed the conceptual design of a very large gas carrier (VLGC) initially powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) but adaptable to future use of ammonia as the main fuel.

The design has won approval in principle (AIP) from the Japanese classification society ClassNK.

According to the shipbuilder, the creation of a design enabling conversion to ammonia fuel in line with future needs is expected to permit relatively small-scale ship retrofitting when the use of ammonia fuel becomes a viable option. The vessel can also transport ammonia as cargo.

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As part of its role in the Energy Transition strategy of the MHI Group, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, like many of its Japanese counterparts, has been putting a massive focus on developing and commercializing alternative fuel vessels.

The Japanese shipbuilders are working on building up their capacity and knowledge in the area as a way of boosting their competitive advantage over South Korean and Chinese rivals and attracting more orders for green ships.

Mitsubishi is also involved in several other projects involving ammonia.

In November 2021, the company joined forces with compatriot Namura Shipbuilding and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) to develop a large-size ammonia carrier powered by ammonia fuel.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and MOL have also cooperated on a concept study of an ammonia/liquefied CO2 carrier to flexibly meet future transport demand, unveiling the concept in 2022.

Earlier this month, Japanese heavyweights ITOCHU Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, INPEX Corporation and Taisei Corporation joined hands to conduct a feasibility study on a large-scale and wide-area carbon capture and storage (CCS) value chain project.

The four companies will look into launching a joint project to separate, capture, and transport CO2 via ship from hard-to-abate industries. As part of the study, the companies will also be looking into sites in Japan for CO2 storage.

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