Different companies are coming up with various solutions to cut back on fossil fuel usage. Of course, there are innovations such as electric cars, solar vehicles, and hydrogen aircrafts. There are other choices to ship fuel, and Amogy is one that is pushing for ammonia-based, zero-emission ships as an alternative. This can potentially change the shipping industry as it uses ammonia as a zero-carbon fuel. The company has revealed that they plan to take the vehicle on a voyage in an inland waterway in New York in late 2023.
Some sources predict that ammonia will be the main ship fuel by 2050, and Amogy is forging a path to net-zero 2050. International shipping is responsible for about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions that are energy-related. The increase in the delivery of goods is expected to push the percentage higher. By 2040, the company hopes to reduce 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The team believes that clean source energy for transportation is urgent, not just needed.
The story behind the pioneering company
It seems the motivation behind this ship comes from our planet’s natural biodiversity, climate stability, air quality, and ecosystems at stake. Amogy was launched in 2020 with the goal of decarbonizing transportation and making ammonia into a sustainable power source. In July 2021, it successfully engineered an ammonia-powered drone flight at a 5kW scale, and later in 2022 demonstrated a 100kW powerpack in a tractor. In the first quarter of 2023, Amogy successfully presented the world’s first ammonia-based zero-emission semi-truck.
“We’re incredibly proud of unveiling the first ammonia-powered vessel later this year — especially because of the hope, promise and anticipation that ammonia has built as a zero-emission fuel in the heavy transportation industry — specifically in regards to maritime shipping,” said Seonghoon Woo, CEO of Amogy. “This is the first milestone of many you will see from Amogy in accelerating the accessibility and scalability of clean energy in the global maritime industry.”
Partners that are collaborating with Amogy include Seam, the electrical systems integrator, and C-Job Naval Architects, a ship design company. The company is also working with Feeney Shipyard which sourced the 1975 vintage tugboat modified by Amogy to run on liquid ammonia. It is also collaborating with Unique Technical Solutions for the electrical and systems work. The US Coast Guard and the DNV organization make sure that all marine safety regulations are followed.
The challenge in using ammonia
More than 75% of ammonia that is produced is used as a fertilizer and can be made with renewable or conventional resources. It produces no carbon-dioxide emissions and is a potential hydrogen storage. When liquefied, it contains around 48% more hydrogen by volume than hydrogen, making ammonia a potential replacement for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene.
The marine industry is one of the hardest to decarbonize since it uses enormous amounts of energy to power sea-borne vessels. The batteries must be large and heavy, and handling gaseous hydrogen is challenging. Although ammonia has half the energy density of diesel fuel, it produces no carbon emissions. The autoignition temperature of ammonia is higher than that of gasoline and diesel. This causes ignition difficulties such as power reduction in the engine and low combustion temperature.
The modifications needed for engines to use ammonia-based fuel are small. Electric motors for zero-carbon shipping are powered by Amogy’s ammonia-to-power technology. This feeds liquid ammonia through its cracking modules incorporated into a hybrid fuel cell system. The cracking reactor will split the ammonia into hydrogen and nitrogen. Then, it will run through a fuel cell which will produce electricity and power the electric motors. The tugboat already had an electric drive system using diesel generators and electric motors. Amogy has replaced these with an ammonia generator.
Amogy’s focus industries are trucking, shipping, material-handling equipment, and distributed energy systems and data centers. They’ve already raised $208M from investors such as SK Innovation, Temasek, and Korea Zinc.
YouTube: Amogy: Forging a path to Net Zero
Photo credit: The feature image is a render from Amogy and has been distributed as part of a press release.
Sources: Gard / IEA / Anthony King (European Commission) / Crunchbase