Shipping ‘must get a handle’ on ammonia safety

The shipping industry must prioritise safety when developing ammonia to power ships in the race to decarbonisation, a leading industry figure has warned.

Speaking in a panel discussion at the release of DNV’s Maritime Outlook to 2050 report, Prof. Lynn Loo, CEO, Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, said, “Ammonia is super toxic and we really have to get a handle on safety. When using it as a marine fuel, we will need to be so much more stringent than transporting it as a cargo.”

Ammonia’s toxicity challenges and related risks are significant and, while manageable, they will add complexity to ship designs (compared to those for conventional and other low-flashpoint fuels and gases) and will potentially limit the ships for which it is a suitable fuel.

Ammonia ultimately may prove to be a more appropriate solution for deep-sea cargo ships rather than short-sea, passenger or inland waterway craft. The first ammonia-powered vessel is set to launch late 2025.

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