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Ammonia-Fueled Ship Project Advances by Forming Cargo Network

ammona-fueled short sea bulk carrier
Design concept for the short sea bulk carrier fueled by ammonia (Viridis Bulk Carriers)

Published Jul 1, 2021 5:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

Efforts to launch the first zero-emissions logistic system are advancing with five Scandinavian industrial and consumer products companies joining a network launched Norwegian start-up Viridis Bulk Carriers. Using a fleet of ammonia-powered short sea bulk carriers, the goal is to explore a zero-emission logistics system comprising ships, fuel, and logistics to transport the cargo from the companies. The partners seek to create a flexible bulk shipping network, served by a fleet of ammonia-powered ships, managing cost with long-term cargo contracts.

“We are pleased that Elkem, Vestkorn, Biomar, Franzefoss Minerals, and Saltimport have decided to join us in finding a carbon-free solution for their logistical requirements. Together, we invite all environmentally ambitious cargo owners to collaborate with us,” said André Risholm at Viridis Bulk Carriers. “Zero emission shipping will be enabled through economies of scale, and our door is open for everyone who finds this interesting.”

Earlier this year, Viridis reported that it had already begun developing the design concept for its vessels with support from the Research Council of Norway’s Green Platform for Business Restructuring. Together with Arena Ocean Hyway Cluster, Viridis reported that it was exploring a range of different configurations to create a flexible design for its bulk carriers to meet the broad needs of charters.

The project plans to use reciprocating engines that will burn ammonia to generate propulsive power, and an exhaust gas after-treatment system optimized for ammonia that will eliminate any by-products. They also plan to use batteries and shore power connections creating an ammonia-electric hybrid power system. The electric system will enable maneuvering and cargo operations without emissions.

One of the challenges is the higher projected costs to develop and operate ships using ammonia. Viridis plans to overcome this through cargo optimization which they believe will enable better utilization resulting in lower costs for shippers. 

“We see clear synergies between the cargo flows of our client partners,” says Espen Nordstrøm at Viridis Bulk Carriers. “This is a good starting point to achieve high ship utilization. With the increased productivity in the logistics chain, the goal is to reduce the cost impact of utilizing carbon-free ammonia fuel, which may initially be more expensive than fuels used today. Realization of the project will have a significant impact on local pollutants and global CO2 emissions from shipping, in addition to reducing value chain emissions for food-, fish feed-, metals-, fertilizer-, construction-, and other industries which transport large bulk and special project cargo volumes.”

By working with the network, the goal is to develop ships that will be sufficiently flexible to handle varying types and volumes of cargo, in terms of both operational range and functional capabilities, while maintaining safety. 

Viridis Bulk Carriers expect to place orders for ships during 2022, with deliveries starting in 2024/25.