Bureau Veritas (BV) has carried out a study aimed at what it calls de-risking the use of ammonia as a marine fuel. The study focused on leak mitigation and treatment and was conducted in collaboration with the French energy and oil company Total Energies.
Ammonia is one of the zero-carbon fuels being considered for shipping. It burns without emitting CO2 and is zero-carbon well-to-wake when produced from renewable energy. However, ammonia is toxic to humans and exposure beyond certain levels and durations can have serious health consequences. Therefore, it is vital to precent accidental leaks during ship operations and bunkering, BV stated.
To help de-risk ammonia as a marine fuel, BV said it is building on the tried-and-tested approach that was used over the last decade to propel the development of LNG as a fuel.
In the study, BV and Total Energies assessed what concentrations of ammonia in the air would be problematic and compared those levels to LNG. According to BV, LNG becomes dangerous at around 50,000 parts per million (PPM), while ammonia starts to have health effects above 30 ppm when permanently exposed and around 300 ppm when exposed for one hour.
Based on this, BV noted that unless modifications are made to design, safety distances should be much greater for ammonia than for LNG. BV’s ammonia-focused rule note NR 671 includes more stringent leak management onboard and vapor gas processing to avoid even small leaks reaching areas with people.
Commented Laurent Leblanc, senior vice president technical and operations at BV Marine and Offshore: “While further experimentation and analysis are required to reach definite conclusions, this preliminary study helped identify future areas to explore for de-risking ammonia as a fuel.
“Until technology development can eliminate ammonia leaks completely, leak mitigation and treatment remain the best course of action for shipowners and designers. Our preliminary study with Total Energies forms a strong basis for further industry collaborations. By pairing the right questions with the right tests, marine stakeholders can begin the journey to de-risking ammonia as a fuel, as they did for LNG.”
In addition to this study, BV is working to help develop the world’s largest ammonia-fueled ammonia-carrier (VLAC) and is classing two future ammonia-fueled vessels with its ammonia-prepared notation, including two liquefied petroleum gas carriers.