Korean, Chinese, Japanese Shipbuilders Racing to Develop Ammonia-powered Vessels


Competition is heating up among shipbuilders in Korea, China, and Japan to develop ammonia-powered ships amid growing demand for eco-friendly vessels. Ammonia is an eco-friendly fuel.

Korea is ahead of China in ammonia vessel technology, but Chinese shipbuilders are chasing their Korean rivals.

Recently, a group of Chinese companies have jointly developed an ammonia fuel-based VLCC design and received approval in principle (AIP) from the Chinese Ship Classification Association and the American Bureau of Shipping.

The companies were the Marine Design & Research Institute of China, which is affiliated with the China State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC); COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry (CSHI), which is the shipbuilding arm of COSCO Shipping, China’s largest shipping company; and COSCO Shipping Energy Transportation Co., an affiliate of COSCO Shipping.

The design is for a 310,000-DWT VLCC loaded with a main ammonia fuel engine with two C-type ammonia fuel tanks made by MAN Energy Solutions. The dual fuel engine can be replaced with a pure ammonia engine in the future.

Hyundai Heavy Industries acquired AIP for an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier from Bureau Veritas of France in September. It also acquired the industry’s first AIP for an ammonia fuel supply system from the Korea Register of Shipping (KR) in the same month.

In August, Samsung Heavy Industries received AIP for an ammonia-ready VLCC from Norwegian ship classification agency DNV. Ammonia-ready ships mean ships that are powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) or diesel but can be fueled by ammonia as well. They are in the pre-pure ammonia ship stage.

Recently, Japan has also joined the competition. In October, Nippon Shipyard (NSY) announced a plan to develop ammonia-powered ships. It plans to develop ammonia-powered home-waters liners by 2024 and large ammonia-powered carriers by 2026.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has decided to reduce ship greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and 50 percent, respectively, by 2030 and 2050. The proportion of ammonia ships is expected to reach 20 percent of all vessels in 2050.

Korea has begun to secure ammonia ship technology, with the government taking the lead. It is focusing on the development of ammonia engines, fuel tanks, and fuel supply systems. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries will invest a total of 254 billion won for 10 years from 2022 to 2031 to develop technologies related to the entire cycle of eco-friendly ships. By the end of 2021, they will map out a detailed implementation plan.

Source: Business Korea