Major stakeholders in the shipping industry converged in Copenhagen on 4th October, to collaboratively address the paramount safety challenges and best practices essential for integrating ammonia as an alternative marine fuel.
he gathering was the inaugural event of a series initiated by the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, dedicated to fostering a collective understanding and approach towards the intricacies of ammonia safety.
Through these workshops, we aim to bring together the industry’s foremost minds, emphasizing the collaborative enhancement of safety standards for ammonia-fueled vessels. We’re not just discussing change; we’re propelling it.
…said Claus Graugaard, CTO and Head of Onboard Vessel Solutions at the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, shared his vision for the initiative.
Companies and organizations participating in the workshop included American Bureau of Shipping, Danish Maritime Authority, MAN Energy Solutions, SMGF, DNV, CF Industries, Intertanko, Cargill, A.P. Møller – Mærsk, bp, V.Group, Port of Rotterdam, Lloyd’s Register, and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.
We all agree that the journey forward is anchored in safety. Without a meticulous and collective dedication to understanding its intricacies and establishing unwavering safety protocols, the immense potential of this fuel will remain untapped. The ships of tomorrow need more than just fuel; they require a steadfast commitment to safety.
…said Claus Graugaard.
As explained, among alternative marine fuels, ammonia has been gaining attention for its potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, the safety of crew members remains at the forefront of considerations due to the toxic nature of the ammonia molecule. A deep and comprehensive understanding of these risks, coupled with effective safety measures and professional risk management, is crucial for its widespread acceptance.
Lloyd’s Register Maritime Decarbonization Hub, in collaboration with the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center, recently published a study titled, “Recommendations for Design and Operation of Ammonia-Fueled Vessels Based on Multi-disciplinary Risk Analysis.” This research provides a comprehensive approach to assessing the safety considerations of onboard ammonia. It indicates that by taking diligent precautions, employing an inherently safe design philosophy, and strengthening soft skill and leadership, the risks associated with ammonia can be managed within safe limits.
The implementation of alternatives to conventional fossil-based fuels is key to decarbonization of the global shipping industry. Ammonia is currently one of the frontrunners among alternative shipping fuels, as it can be combusted with almost no carbon dioxide emissions. However, using ammonia as a shipping fuel involves safety hazards: primarily toxicity, but also onboard fires and explosions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand these risks and the safeguards that can be implemented to reduce them to tolerable levels.
- Lower storage temperature reduces the safety risk from ammonia fuel.
- Divide the fuel preparation room into two or more separate spaces containing different groups of equipment that could leak ammonia.
- Access to and length of time spent in spaces containing ammonia equipment should be minimized, monitored, and controlled.
- Ventilation outlets from spaces containing ammonia equipment should be placed in a safe location adequately separated from areas accessed by crew, in order to avoid accidental release of toxic concentrations of ammonia affecting personnel.
- Multiple sensors of different types to detect ammonia leaks should be installed.
- Secondary containment mechanisms, such as double-walled piping, used for ammonia-related equipment outside of already-restricted areas have
been proven to significantly reduce risk.
- Ventilated gas-tight enclosures installed around any gas valve units in engine rooms also reduce risk.
- Ventilation of spaces containing ammonia equipment provides mitigation of toxic effects for many smaller, but not all, potential ammonia leaks.
- This mitigation is particularly efficient for smaller leaks. Consideration of additional precautions is required for personnel entering these spaces.
- Ventilation of spaces containing ammonia equipment reduces the risk of ammonia concentrations reaching a flammable level. Although ammonia
is much less flammable than some other fuels, the flammability hazard should not be ignored.
- Ammonia leak alarms should be installed both in controlled areas (for example, the fuel preparation room) and near potential leak sources. À The fuel system should be subject to rapid and reliable manual and automated shutdown in the event of an ammonia leak.