Ocean Network Express (ONE) has obtained design approval for a revolutionary ammonia-fueled container ship, signaling its commitment to exploring diverse zero-carbon fuels for the maritime industry. The approval, granted by the classification society DSV, pertains to the design of a dual-fuel 3,500-TEU ship capable of being powered by ammonia—a colorless chemical that emits no CO2 when burned. However, it is essential to note that this approval is for the ship’s design, and the decision to proceed with construction remains undisclosed.

In a statement, ONE emphasized the potential of ammonia as a promising future marine fuel with the capability to contribute significantly to shipping decarbonization. Cristina Saenz de Santa Maria, DNV’s regional manager of Southeast Asia, Pacific & India/Maritime, expressed confidence that DNV’s rules for ammonia would assist customers in safely adopting this new fuel type once the necessary infrastructure is in place.

The move by ONE underscores its commitment to a multi-fuel future, aligning with the maritime industry’s collective ambition to achieve full decarbonization “by or around” 2050. This ambitious goal was set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) last year, replacing a previous target of only a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

Ammonia, considered a toxic zero-carbon fuel, is in its early stages as a potential marine fuel. Regulatory frameworks addressing safety and operational concerns are still being developed at the IMO. The container shipping sector is cautiously embracing ammonia, with 58 container ships on order designed for potential conversion to ammonia power post-delivery. Currently, no ammonia-fueled ships are operational, in contrast to 184 methanol-fueled ships with one already in service.

ONE is actively studying the feasibility of ammonia as part of its ongoing research into zero-carbon fuels. The company acknowledges that ammonia is a primary focus and commits to continuing its study on this promising alternative.

A 2023 study by the Global Center for Maritime Decarbonization (GCMD) forecasts significant future demand for ammonia as a bunker fuel. The study envisions a scenario where ammonia comprises 10% of all marine fuels bunkered in Singapore by 2035, rising to 37% by 2050. DNV separately predicts that ammonia will represent 36% of low- and zero-carbon marine fuels by 2050.

Despite the positive outlook, the lack of a regulatory framework for ammonia has been highlighted by the GCMD. The center urges swift development of regulations, considering the time required for infrastructure buildout, competency development, and operational readiness in the bunkering ecosystem due to safety concerns associated with handling ammonia as a bunker fuel.


Source: JOC