GEA, a Germany-based machinery and plant manufacturer and systems supplier, revealed plans to support the shipping industry in reducing emissions as a system supplier with in-house solutions, with ammonia being one of the options.

This means that shipping companies and shipping lines that rely on ammonia as an alternative to diesel and heavy fuel oil for marine engine fuels can now count on GEA’s support in developing appropriate technologies.

The announcement was made at the international “Ship Efficiency” conference in Hamburg on 27 and 28 September 2021. 

In developing appropriate concepts for the use of ammonia (NH₃), GEA said it relies on its expertise in separator technology as well as refrigeration and heating technology using natural refrigerants such as CO₂ and ammonia.

To reduce harmful emissions, more and more ships will be powered by alternative fuels to heavy fuel oil and diesel in the future. Experts from classification society DNV predict that in around 30 years at the latest, around a quarter of all ships on the world’s oceans will be powered by ammonia – alongside diesel, liquefied petroleum gas, heavy fuel oil and biofuels.

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Decarbonizing shipping

With the fuel ammonia and a five percent diesel blend, shipping can be almost completely decarbonized in the long term. The reason is that ammonia burns without emitting CO₂.

However, the decisive factor in terms of climate friendliness is that the energy-intensive production of ammonia is switched to renewable energy sources. Another advantage is that ammonia also transports hydrogen bond in the molecule (NH₃), which can be converted into electricity on-site in fuel cells.

Another clear argument in favor of ammonia is that there is a great deal of experience worldwide in production, storage and logistics. Of course, as mentioned above, production still needs to be converted to renewable sources. In addition, it can be expected that there will be a stable supply of ammonia since many places are working on production methods for ammonia-based on renewable energy.

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