NYK Line, JERA and chemicals company Resonac have partnered for a joint study on ammonia bunkering.

Shipping company NYK and Japanese power company JERA said the companies are hoping to achieve the “first ever” safe supply of ammonia to ships.

NYK was already conducting research around its development of a tugboat – the so-called A-tug – equipped with a domestic ammonia-fuelled engine.

“As part of this initiative, in conjunction with the completion of the A-Tug scheduled for next June, we will work together to realise the world’s first safe and secure supply of fuel ammonia to ships,” NYK said.

In November this year NYK line began converting an LNG-fuelled tug to run on ammonia, with delivery slated for June 2024.

The new study will focus on establishing safe operations for supplying ammonia, developing systems for transporting ammonia to port areas and setting rules around the supply of ammonia as a marine fuel.

“We are taking on the challenge of building a hydrogen and ammonia supply chain as part of reaching net zero CO2 emissions from domestic and international operations by 2050,” JERA said.

“This joint study aimed at supplying fuel ammonia to ships is the first example of a decarbonisation solution that reaches beyond the power generation sector toward use in other industrial sectors.

“We believe this first-in-the-world initiative to supply fuel to a ship equipped with an ammonia-fueled engine will, though the joint study, make a significant contribution to the promotion and adoption of fuel ammonia in the shipping sector.”

Resonac said using ammonia as a fuel would enable vessels to “drastically” reduce GHG emissions during voyages.

“People have high hopes for ammonia as next-generation fuel because it burns without emission of CO2,” the company said.

“Resonac has been producing and selling ammonia since 1930s and has rich knowledge about safe handling of ammonia including transportation and supply.

“Resonac will strive to realise safe and secure supply of ammonia fuel to boats and ships as the first case in the world, and contribute to realization of carbon-neutral society.”