MSC, LR, MAN, ammonia containership

MSC charts course for ammonia-powered containership with industry majors

The world’s largest container shipping company Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) with Lloyd’s Register (LR), Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute (SDARI) and MAN Energy Solutions (MAN-ES) for a design for the ammonia dual-fuel operation of an MSC container ship.

Image credit: LR

Under the MOU, a technical specification and the associated design documents will be developed for a variant of SDARI’s twin island 8,200 TEU container ship design for a vessel contracted to LR class by MSC.

This will allow MSC to have the option of adopting ammonia as a zero-carbon main propulsion fuel for future newbuilding contracts.

As part of the project, SDARI will prepare the specification and design documentation of the ammonia dual-fuel variant, whilst LR will verify that the design conforms with safety standards and rules relating to the usage of ammonia as a marine fuel. MAN-ES will deliver data for the engine design and ammonia fuel supply and emission abatement systems. 

Wang Gangyi, CTO of SDARI, said that projects like this are vital for helping evaluate the risks and opportunities of using ammonia for propulsion and for sharing these learnings across the maritime supply chain.

Increasingly seen as one of the most promising alternative fuels to support the maritime energy transition, ammonia emits no CO2 when it is burned, and its stability and comparatively reasonable energy-to-volume ratio creates opportunities for long-distance transportation.

“LR is delighted to join this landmark project with MSC, SDARI and MAN Energy Systems for MSC’s new ammonia dual fuel container ship design,” Nick Brown, CEO of Lloyd’s Register, said.

“The application of ammonia as a marine fuel for the container ship sector will be crucial for our industry to achieve the emission reduction targets set by the IMO and this cross-supply chain collaboration marks a vital step in the maritime industry’s energy transition.” 

“Proactive collaboration between ship operators, ship designers, class and engine makers has never been so important. MSC is pleased to enter in this project to evaluate if Zero Carbon Fuels like Ammonia can be safely adopted and the impact they will have on vessel operation,” Giuseppe Gargiulo, Head of Newbuilding, MSC said.

The news comes at a time when MSC emerges as the world’s first ocean carrier to break the 5 million TEU ceiling in fleet capacity.

The impressive feat highlights MSC’s meteoric rise in recent years, as the shipping giant accomplished this remarkable growth from 4 million TEU to 5 million TEU in a mere 22 months.

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MSC already has ten newbuilds on order that are expected to be ammonia-ready. The ten 11,500 TEU LNG-powered vessels have been designed by CIMC’s subsidiary CIMC Ocean Engineering Design and Research Institute (CIMC ORIC). The delivery of the newbuilds will be spread between 2025 and 2026.

So far, the company has invested in LNG and biofuels as alternative fuels for its ships, however, the company did confirm its interest in methanol and ammonia.

The company is looking at a multi-pronged approach, deploying several types of net-zero energy sources such as synthetic LNG, green methanol and ammonia, to propel the MSC fleet of the future when these fuels become available at scale. 

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“In order to meet the decarbonisation objectives of our industry on time, we need to look closely at all fuel solutions. Being part of this MoU with MSC, SDARI and LR aligns with our strategic purpose, to provide decarbonization solutions for our trusted partners and it solidifies the industry commitment to reduce emissions,” Bjarne Foldager, Head of 2-stroke, MAN Energy Solutions said.

MAN Energy Solutions aims to have a commercially available two-stroke ammonia engine by as early as 2024, followed by a retrofit package for the gradual rebuild of existing maritime vessels by 2025.