NYK to convert LNG-powered tug to run on ammonia

Japan’s shipping giant NYK has awarded a contract to convert its LNG-powered tugboat Sakigake to run on ammonia.

NYK’s Keihin Dock will modify the 37.20 meters long tugboat, which is currently operated in Tokyo Bay by NYK’s Shin-Nippon Kaiyosha.

According to a statement by NYK, the firm would begin modification work in fiscal 2023 with the aim of realizing demonstration operations in the port of Yokohama in fiscal 2024.

NYK took delivery of Japan’s first LNG powered tug, Sakigake, in 2015.

In October last year, NYK and IHI Power Systems launched this R&D. It is a part of the Green Innovation Fund project within Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) for the development of vessels equipped with a domestically produced ammonia-fueled engine.

NYK to convert LNG-powered tug to run on ammonia
Image: NYK

Since carbon dioxide (CO2) is not emitted when ammonia is combusted, NYK sees ammonia as a next-generation fuel that could mitigate shipping’s impact on global warming.

In addition, NYK said that zero emissions can be realized throughout the fuel life cycle by utilizing CO2-free hydrogen as a raw material for ammonia.

By using ammonia as a fuel for ships, it will be possible to “significantly” reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during voyages. Therefore, NYK and IPS are proceeding with research and development aiming for early implementation.

In the development process, there were various design challenges in using ammonia as fuel, but the two companies overcame these challenges without changing the size of the conventional tugboat and received approval in principle (AiP) from ClassNK in July 2022, NYK said.

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