How ammonia could help clean up global shipping

The US Bureau of Shipping, which sets safety standards for global shipping, recently granted early approval for some ammonia-powered vessels and bunkering infrastructure, including a design from Samsung Heavy Industries, one of the largest shipbuilders in the world. Such ships could hit the seas within the next few years, with many companies promising to deliver in 2024. While the fuel will require new engines and new fuel systems, replacing it with the fossil fuels that ships burn today could help bring about a significant reduction in global carbon emissions.

And some companies are looking to the future even more, with their headquarters in New York emoji It raised nearly $50 million earlier this year to use the fuel cell chemical that promises even greater emissions reductions.

Shipping accounts for about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions. If early tests for ammonia or Other alternative fuels Proving scalable systems, these new technologies could help the shipping industry begin to shift away from fossil fuels and slow the emissions that cause climate change.

Ammonia is attractive because of its high energy density – the amount of energy that can be packed into a given volume. While it is commonly found as a gas, it can be squeezed at relatively low pressures into an easily transportable liquid.

Ammonia is a familiar chemical for shipping companies. Globally, about 200 million tons of it are produced annually, about three-quarters of which is devoted to fertilizer production. Many ports already have some form of ammonia storage for shipping.

However, the chemical comes with some challenges. Burning ammonia as a fuel can lead to the formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx). These compounds are greenhouse gases that can also harm human and animal health, he says Madeline Rosedirector of the climate campaign at Pacific Environment, an environmental organization.

But if ships used ammonia for fuel cells instead, the NOx pollution problem could be avoided.

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