Study: Ports need to proactively prioritize spatial safety for future fuels
A recent study jointly developed by Dutch Port of Amsterdam and classification society DNV has concluded that ports looking to supply new zero or carbon-neutral fuels to ships will need to pay special attention to spatial safety when planning ahead for locating and building bunkering infrastructure.
The report, commissioned earlier this year by the Port of Amsterdam, focuses on the spatial safety aspects of future fuels such as hydrogen, methanol and ammonia.
The report coincides with COP26 and the increasing focus on future fuels at the upcoming MEPC77 meeting of the IMO. This includes examining short-to-medium term measures to decarbonize and reduce emissions, including market-based measures to fund the acceleration of research into zero-carbon fuels.
“Current legislation and competing space for urban and industrial use demands that ports look far ahead when considering the location, design and implementation of future bunkering infrastructure for ships,” Henri van der Weide, Environmental Policy Advisor to the Port of Amsterdam, said.
“In addition, as mentioned by IAPH in its recent submission to the IMO on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, the lower energy density of low-carbon fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen compared to fossil fuels is likely to result in more frequent refuelling of ships as well as the development of more decentralized zero-carbon bunker fuel hubs.”
The port therefore decided to commission the joint study with DNV to look at expected low carbon fuels of the future and assess the risks in granular detail for each one of them. With considerable experience already in determining spatial safety risks for LNG bunkering operations, the risks of bunker scenarios with the new fuels with flow rates of 400 cbm [low] and 1000 cbm [high] per hour were determined as follows:
- Spatial safety distance — this distance is determined by the probability of a single fatal accident occurring to one individual in a million at a specific location where that person is outside 24/7, 365 days per year
- Focus areas — the area where people located inside buildings which are susceptible to accidents with hazardous substances, such as fire, explosion and toxicity risk.
Spatial distances required concur within a sufficient range for all fuels, with one exception
In layman’s terms, the study found that with both the low and high flow rates, spatial distances for the new fuels are comparable to LNG bunker operations with the exception of pressurized ammonia.
The spatial distance for pressurized ammonia was well over double of any other fuel, including refrigerated ammonia.
Similarly, in the study of focus areas, it became clear that for both refrigerated and pressurized ammonia, despite having zero risk of fire or explosion, that the maximum distance from bunker hose to focus area boundary was up to between 1.4 and 2.6 kilometers in the case of toxicity. This exceeded by far any of the other focus area distance parameters for fire and explosion for all other alternative zero carbon and low carbon fuels (i.e. hydrogen, methanol and LNG) all of which fell within a 0 to 448 meter range.
“The findings have helped us understand better what we have to do when considering a berth location for this new fuel bunkering, especially when port terminal infrastructure is predominantly located in the vicinity of urban or business office locations,” Peter Alkema, Policy advisor to the Port of Amsterdam who is also Chairman of the IAPH Clean Marine Fuels Working Group, said.
“It will allow us to add spatial safety considerations to the many other parameters needed when a port considers whether to plan for a bunkering hub. We hope this report will help other ports in their ambition to advance the transition of the maritime industry towards cleaner fuels for decarbonisation and air quality improvement.”
Both the Dutch ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam are key contributors to the work of the IAPH Clean Marine Fuels Working Group, which is in the process of digitalizing its widely-used cryogenic bunker fuel lists, bunker audit tools for candidate terminal operators and alternative fuel terminal readiness guidance, beginning with LNG and now being adapted for hydrogen, methanol and ammonia.