IMO 2020: The Big Shipping Shake-Up

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) – the UN agency responsible for ensuring a clean, safe, and efficient global shipping industry – will be implementing new regulations that will have massive impact on maritime shipping.

Coverage here

This is all old news, companies have been planning for this for years.

It seems that IMO have changed the time table. The original goal was to reduce total annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least fifty percent by 2050 compared to 2008 and eventually fully eliminate harmful emissions.

Bringing down the harmful emissions to acceptable levels can be achieved by using less polluting fuels like diesel which is however much more expensive. What will immediately help is bringing down the ship’s speed. The logistic chain should then adapt itself to the delays in delivery of goods.

Using natural gas (LNG) is another option as well as hydrogen which has the challenge of storing and handling a -253°C cryogenic liquid. Ammonia (NH3) as a hydrogen carrier can probably also be used in the future and can be stored as a liquid at a far less finicky -33°C. If you want to get the hydrogen out of ammonia, you must heat it up, to crack the hydrogen from the liquid. That thermic energy must come from somewhere.

A disadvantage is that ammonia compared to HFO weighs twice as much and requires three time more space to contain the same amount of energy. Such issues will have to be taken into account for ammonia-powered ships. Furthermore, ammonia is known to be a toxic substance; a fact that will need to be addressed when developing a safe and class-compliant ship design.

Ammonia has been banned as a refrigerant gas,how will it be use sadly as a fuel

Ammonia can be used safely and effectively as a marine fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. That is the result of a study by the Dutch firm C-Job Naval Architects. It cannot be compared with the use of ammonia for refrigerators.

A condition is that the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) is reduced, for example by using a catalyst. In addition, extensive measures must be taken for responsible handling of the hazardous and toxic substance.

The use of ammonia as a ship fuel is possible because a seagoing vessel is a closed and professional system. However, it will probably take about 10 more years before ammonia will be allowed to be used as a safe and class-compliant fuel for ships.

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That might be news to IACS members.