A 75-Foot Vessel Is Being Converted to Run Almost Entirely on Ammonia

As the shipping industry prepares for a net-zero future.
Chris Young
The MMA LevequeMMA Offshore

Green energy company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) is collaborating with MMA Offshore to convert a 75-meter (246-feet) vessel, the "MMA Leveque", so that it can run almost entirely on green ammonia by 2022, a press statement from FFI explains.

In the same statement, the company reveals that its chairman, billionaire Andrew Forrest, called for an industry-wide push for shipping to reach net-zero by 2040 during a keynote for 'Transport Day' at the COP26 conference in Glasgow this week, a United Nations summit aimed at accelerating action on climate change.

The MMA Leveque is one of several Fortescue Metal Group's vessels and vehicles that will be transformed to operate on green fuels, as the company also says it is gradually working on converting its fleet of trucks, locomotives, and ships. Earlier this year, FFI successfully demonstrated the combustion of a blended ammonia fuel in a locomotive, and it says it will soon be able to power trains on one hundred percent green ammonia. 

Though ammonia has great potential as a green fuel, questions remain over its use on a global scale. This week, for example, an aviation firm from the U.K., Reaction Engines, unveiled a concept for an ammonia-fueled aircraft. The company says the sustainable fuel is 70 percent more powerful than liquid hydrogen, though detractors point out that there are concerns that the use of ammonia-based combustion at a mass scale could contribute to smog conditions as well as acid rain.

FFI wants to help the shipping industry 'decarbonize completely'

During his speech at the COP26 conference, Forrest said FFI is "providing the shipping industry with the practical know-how to decarbonize completely" and that the converted MMA Leveque "will show the shipping industry the power of a vessel fueled by green ammonia in real-world conditions."

"We are investing heavily in research and development to transform our trains, trucks and ships on the road, rail and sea with zero pollution fuels as soon as possible," he continued.

The shipping industry gets a little less attention than aviation when it comes to its impact on the environment. However, a report in 2019, claimed that Sweden's shipping emitted more greenhouse gases than its domestic aviation. The IPCC's report on climate change this year has further highlighted the fact that the world needs a multi-industry drive to turn the tide and avoid the worst effects of climate change. Following that report, several firms have made renewed calls to reduce their impact on the environment this year, including cargo giant Maersk, which recently announced it aims to cut its emissions by 60 percent by 2030. 

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