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Japan's Ministry of Transport Reveals Tantalizing Zero-Emission Ship Details

A recent webinar by Japan's MLIT highlighted the promise of hydrogen-based fuels of the future.

In March 2020, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) formulated a roadmap for zero-emission international shipping in cooperation with the maritime industry, research institutes, and public institutions.

The goal was to rise to the challenge of climate change amidst forecasts of increasing transportation volumes by developing the ultimate “Zero Emission eco-ship" that does not emit greenhouse gases by 2028.

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Yesterday, the first webinar presentation in English of Japan's 'Roadmap to Zero Emission from International Shipping' took place and was focused on four new ship design concepts.

Fueling the future

The four ship concepts were the focal point of a webinar on ‘The pathway to hydrogen and ammonia’ hosted by ABB Turbocharging yesterday.

These were: the hydrogen-fuelled ship (C – ZERO Japan H2); the super-efficient LNG-fuelled ship (C – ZERO Japan LNG & Wind); the ammonia-fuelled ship (C – ZERO Japan NH3); onboard CO2 capturing ships (C – ZERO Japan Capture).

The concepts were drawn up by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) in association with the Japan Ship Technology Research Association and The Nippon Foundation. The webinar report presentation was led by engine specialist Prof Koji Takasaki of Kyushu University.

Setting sail on emission reduction pathways

Prof Tagasaki highlighted the report's identification of two main "feasible" emission-reduction pathway for shipping: the adoption of hydrogen/ammonia as a future fuel, or liquified natural gas (LNG), providing the focus is on using carbon-recycled methane.

Hydrogen-based ammonia, the speakers pointed out, is a slightly more expensive fuel alternative to produce, though it has significant advantages such as easier storage, handling, and transportation.

Japan's Ministry of Transport Reveals Tantalizing Zero-Emission Ship Details
Source: Chuttersnap/Unsplash

Dr Dino Imhof, head of Turbocharging Solutions at ABB Turbocharging, who also spoke during the presentation, emphasized the need for an immediate "holistic" consideration of several future fuels.

The main challenge in incorporating these fuels, Imhof argues, is building the supply infrastructure to meet the enormous demand of the shipping industry.

MLIT's concepts are one more step towards the shipping industry — which according to an IMO study is responsible for 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions — curbing its carbon emissions.

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