NYK going forward with world’s first ammonia storage barge

NYK Line, Nihon Shipyard (NSY), ClassNK, and IHI Corporation signed a joint research and development agreement for the commercialization of an ammonia floating storage and regasification barge (A-FSRB). 

Specifically, the parties will work on the R&D of the world’s first barge equipped with a floating storage and regasification facility for ammonia.  A barge is a flat-bottomed vessel designed to carry heavy cargo mainly in inland waterways and ports. Almost all barges cannot navigate by themselves because they are not equipped with an engine; they must be towed or propelled by a tugboat.

Since ammonia does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2) when combusted, it is expected to be a next-generation fuel that contributes to global warming countermeasures. 

In Japan, technological development is underway for ammonia fuel mixed combustion power generation at coal-fired power plants as an innovative next-generation thermal power generation technology that contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions. 

On the other hand, when using ammonia in existing thermal power plants, there are issues such as the problem of securing land for new onshore facilities including storage tanks and regasification facilities, and the large initial investment cost.

Advantages of A-FSRB

An A-FSRB is an offshore floating facility that can receive and store ammonia that has been transported via ship as a liquid, warm and regasify ammonia according to demand, and then send it to a pipeline onshore. 

An A-FSRB offers the advantages of shorter construction time and lower costs in comparison to construction of onshore storage tanks and regasification plants. In fact, the A-FSRB is expected to speed up the adoption of ammonia fuel and contribute to its wider use as a lower-environmental-impact next-generation fuel.

In August 2020, NYK Line, Japan Marine United Corporation (which has a 49% share of NSY), and ClassNK started joint R&D of an A-FSRB. However, since the demand for fuel ammonia is expected to increase further in the future, the three parties have concluded a new joint R&D agreement with IHI, an ammonia-related equipment manufacturer.

Photo credit: iStock/ sleepyz. NYK Hikawa Maru ship, February 19, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.

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