Clean maritime: using direct ammonia to reduce emissions

Aerial view cargo ship terminal, unloading crane of cargo ship terminal, aerial view industrial port with containers and container ship.

A UK government-funded project will demonstrate how direct ammonia can reduce maritime fuel emissions and extend the working life of existing vessels.

An innovative group of marine specialists has won funding of over £2 million from the UK government to demonstrate the effectiveness of ammonia as a green fuel for the shipping industry.

About the project

The project is being led by ZEM Fuel Systems, a Scottish start-up company that has set its sights on becoming a leading provider of green technology solutions.

ZEM will be partnering with:

Dr Alfredo Bonaccorso, ZEM Fuel System’s Senior Technology and Commercialisation Officer, said:

Ammonia is widely recognised as an alternative fuel for the marine sector as it doesn’t emit any CO2 when combusted. And using green ammonia, which is produced from renewables instead of fossil fuels, has an even greater impact on the reduction of emissions.

However, combusting ammonia directly does result in the emission of nitrogen oxides. The electrical system we’ve developed will prevent this by enabling us to use special high-temperature solid oxide fuel cells that will directly convert ammonia into nitrogen water and electricity.

The team will develop the operational parameters needed to install and test the fuel cells in an Aberdeen-based fishing vessel and to demonstrate systems for both off-shore charging via a floating platform as well as a harbour-side charging option.

About the funding

The ‘demonstration of direct ammonia fuel cells for maritime propulsion’ project is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition round three (CMDC3). The CMDC3 has allocated £60 million to 19 projects from across the UK to deliver real world demonstration projects in clean maritime solutions between April 2023 and March 2025.

CMDC is funded by the Department for Transport as part of the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions programme and is being delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

Creating jobs and a new supply chain

Dr Bonaccorso added:

CMDC funding has really boosted this project by taking it to the demonstration stage and will create an important new supply chain for clean maritime transport. The support from Innovate UK has enabled us to find and collaborate with new partners which has been invaluable.

It’s also great for Scotland and the UK to be pioneers in this technology.

ZEM Fuel Systems is recruiting for a further seven roles as part of the project and talking to investors about securing funding to continue the company’s growth.

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