NYK: Project to commercialize ammonia-fueled ships set to begin

Japanese shipping company NYK Line and its partners Japan Engine Corporation, IHI Power Systems, and Nihon Shipyard will commence a demonstration project for the commercialization of vessels equipped with a domestically produced ammonia-fueled engine as part of the Green Innovation Fund.


The companies’ participation has been approved by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

The demonstration project, which is scheduled to begin in December with ClassNK added to the consortium, aims to use ammonia as fuel to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during voyages and thus introduce an ammonia-fueled vessel for the good of society earlier than 2030.

The companies will eventually work toward the goal of achieving zero emissions from ships in the future.

As explained, the goal is to realize the development of an ammonia-fueled vessel that is internationally competitive ahead of other countries, and to lead the development of safety guidelines and laws and regulations related to ammonia-fueled vessels.

In order to achieve these goals, marine engine manufacturers, shipyards, class societies, and shipping companies in Japan will work together to consistently cooperate from the research and development stage to engine development, shipbuilding, and commercialization.

As informed, NEDO has approved the following two demonstration projects:

  • the development and operation of an ammonia-fueled tugboat and
  • the development and operation of an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier, and the companies will carry them out.

 Development and operation of an ammonia-fueled tugboat (A-Tug)

The ammonia fuel will have a flame retardant bottleneck, which is difficult to ignite, so this project assumes that a small amount of fuel oil will be used as pilot fuel.

Targeting the delivery of A-Tug in FY2024, the companies aim to reduce GHG emissions by achieving an ammonia fuel mixed combustion rate of 80% or higher.

Photo: NYK

The companies intend to confirm safe operation in demonstrations aimed to improve the mixed combustion rate with a view to achieving zero GHG emissions by using biofuel as a pilot fuel in the future.

Specifically, NYK will be in charge of project management, ship design and legal compliance. IHI Power Systems’ role will be research and design of four-stroke engine while ClassNK will conduct safety assessment of A-Tug.

Development and operation of an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier (AFAGC)

Targeting the ship’s delivery in FY2026, the companies plan to develop and operate an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier (AFAGC) with the concept of transporting ammonia as cargo and using the cargo and ammonia gas vaporized from the cargo as fuel during the voyage.

Photo: NYK

The parties aim to reduce GHG emissions by achieving a maximum ammonia fuel mixed combustion rate of 95% for the main engine that moves the ship, and an ammonia fuel mixed combustion rate of 80% or more for the auxiliary engine that runs the generator.

NYK will be in charge of project management, ship design and legal compliance and Japan Engine Corporation of research and design of two-stroke engine. What is more, IHI Power Systems will be conducting research and designing a four-stroke engine as auxiliary engine. Finally, Nihon Shipyard will develop hull and examine ship construction method while ClassNK will carry out safety assessment of the ship.

Green Innovation Fund project

A JPY 2 trillion fund was created in NEDO to significantly accelerate current efforts such as structural transformation of the energy and industrial sector and innovation through bold investment toward carbon neutrality by 2050.

The fund provides continuous support from R&D and demonstration to social implementation for up to 10 years for companies that share ambitious and concrete goals with the public and private sectors and tackle them as management issues.

Another consortium comprised of K Line, ITOCHU Corporation, NS United Kaiun Kaisha, Nihon Shipyard and Mitsui E&S Machinery has also been selected by NEDO under Green Innovation Fund to move forward with its ammonia-fueled ship project.

Related Article

NEDO provides support mainly in 14 priority areas for which action plans are being formulated in the green growth strategy.

The Japanese government has declared that it will reduce GHG emissions to zero as a whole by 2050 and aim for carbon neutrality, and the energy shift toward the realization of a carbon-free society is accelerating.

Reducing GHG emissions is also an urgent issue in the shipping industry, and research and development is being conducted to convert marine fuel from conventional heavy fuel oil to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and to popularize next-generation zero-emission fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia.

Ammonia does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2) even when burned, so it is expected to be a next-generation fuel that contributes to global warming countermeasures. Furthermore, it is said that by utilizing CO2-free hydrogen for hydrogen, which is the raw material for ammonia, it is possible to achieve zero emissions in consideration of the fuel life cycle.