Contracts signed by Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Japan Engine Corporation, IHI Power Systems Co., and Nihon Shipyard Co., along with ClassNK, mark a pivotal moment in maritime history. The collaboration aims to construct the world's first ammonia-fueled medium gas carrier by November 2026. With a focus on achieving net-zero emissions, building an ammonia value chain, strengthening Japan's maritime industry, and contributing to international rulemaking for ammonia use, this project signifies Japan's pioneering role in the future of sustainable shipping.
In a groundbreaking move towards a sustainable maritime future, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), Japan Engine Corporation, IHI Power Systems Co., Nihon Shipyard Co., and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) have inked contracts to embark on the construction journey of the world's inaugural ammonia-fueled medium gas carrier (AFMGC). This ambitious project, slated for completion in November 2026, stands as a testament to Japan's commitment to leading the maritime sector into an era of decarbonization.
**Background and Goals:**
The collaborative effort stems from being selected by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) for the Green Innovation Fund Project. The consortium aims to contribute to achieving net-zero emissions in international shipping by pioneering the use of ammonia as a next-generation fuel. Not only does ammonia combat global warming by eliminating carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions during combustion, but it also sets the stage for building a robust ammonia value chain.
**Building an Ammonia Value Chain:**
Traditionally used in fertilizers and chemical applications, ammonia's versatility extends to co-firing in thermal power plants and serving as a hydrogen carrier. Anticipating a surge in demand for ammonia, the consortium envisions the establishment of an ammonia value chain, promoting cleaner and environmentally sustainable practices in ammonia production and marine transportation.
**Strengthening Japan’s Maritime Industry:**
Recognizing the critical role of the maritime industry in Japan's economic security, the consortium views fuel conversion as an opportunity to bolster international competitiveness. By leveraging Japan's technological prowess, the consortium seeks to supply ships with high environmental performance and safety, positioning Japan as a frontrunner in the transition to zero-emission shipping.
**International Rulemaking for Marine Use of Ammonia:**
With international rules for ships using ammonia as fuel still under discussion at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), this project places the consortium at the forefront of ammonia-fueled ship development. Active collaboration with ClassNK and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) aims to contribute significantly to shaping international regulations.
The AFMGC, a 40,000 m³ type ammonia fuel ammonia carrier, is scheduled for delivery in November 2026. Japan Marine United Corporation, Ariake Shipyard, will undertake the ship's construction. The vessel will feature a main engine and an auxiliary engine, both powered by ammonia fuel dual-fuel technology. The main engine, produced by Japan Engine Corporation, aims for a remarkable 95% ammonia fuel mixed combustion rate.
**Challenges and Progress:**
Overcoming challenges in designing and developing ammonia-fueled vessels, including flame retardancy of ammonia, treatment of nitrous oxide emissions, and ammonia toxicity, has been a key focus. The consortium's prototype vessel, attaining Approval in Principle (AiP) in September 2022, received acclaim for safety and environmental friendliness. Safety guidelines and draft safety requirements proposed to the IMO showcase the consortium's commitment to ensuring the safe utilization of ammonia-fueled ships.
As the consortium progresses towards the vessel's completion, manufacturing of the main and auxiliary engines, detailed studies for construction, and the preparation of operation manuals are on the agenda. Post-completion, the vessel will undergo operational demonstrations, providing valuable insights for further improvements. The consortium aims to establish itself as a "first mover" in ammonia-fueled vessel development, emphasizing continuous research and development for environmental performance.
The contracts signed for the construction of the ammonia-fueled medium gas carrier mark a historic stride in Japan's commitment to decarbonizing international shipping. With a multifaceted approach focusing on achieving net-zero emissions, building an ammonia value chain, strengthening the maritime industry, and contributing to international rulemaking, this consortium positions Japan as a global leader in sustainable shipping. The vessel's completion in November 2026 signifies not only a technological feat but also a testament to Japan's dedication to pioneering cleaner and greener practices in the maritime sector.