Trio to develop world’s first ammonia-fuelled tug

NYK, IHI Power Systems Co., Ltd., and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) have signed a joint research and development agreement to put the world’s first ammonia-fuelled tugboat into practical use.

This latest project follows a 2015 project which saw the three companies work together to jointly develop Japan’s first LNG-fuelled vessel, also a tugboat, Sakigake.

‘In this new joint R&D project, we will utilise the knowledge cultivated in the development, construction, and operation of Sakigake,’ NYK said.

The companies will undertake technical and operational R&D for the introduction of ammonia as a marine fuel for tugboats.

The trio will begin by focussing on the technological development of the hull, engine, and fuel supply system, and development of safety navigation methods. After evaluating the practicality of the R&D results, they will study the construction of the ammonia-fuelled tugboat and plan for construction.

NYK Line will take charge of the R&D for the hull and fuel supply system while IHI Power Systems Co., Ltd. will lead on the R&D for engine and exhaust gas aftertreatment devices. Class society ClassNK will be responsible for assessing the safety of the vessel.

Commenting on the new project, NYK Line said the introduction of ammonia as a marine fuel is ‘highly expected to be a practical solution’ for decarbonisation in the shipping sector.

NYK Line said: ‘This joint R&D envisions the implementation of ammonia marine fuel in tugboats that require high output, and we will firmly establish the technical and operational requirements for that purpose.

‘If it is possible to commercialise marine equipment that uses ammonia, which is one of the candidates for a next-generation fuel, and establish a method for operating the vessel, it is expected that the Japanese maritime industry will make a significant contribution to decarbonisation of the international shipping sector.’

As Bunkerspot recently reported, last month, NYK Line, Japan Marine United and ClassNK signed a joint R&D agreement for both an ammonia-fuelled ammonia gas carrier and an ammonia floating storage and regasification barge.

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry