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China’s COSCO in Ammonia-Fueled Race with Approval for VLCC Design 

China's COSCO wins approval for ammonia-fueled VLCC design
COSCO reported receiving approval for a VLCC fueled with ammonia (COSCO)

Published Nov 5, 2021 3:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

China’s COSCO Shipping announced that it has received what could be China’s first approval in principle from major classification societies for the design of an ammonia-fueled VLCC. Previously, the South Korean shipyards had been announcing their ammonia-fueled designs in the race to develop the first zero-emission shipping solutions.

Among the many alternative fuels currently being researched, ammonia, which does not produce carbon during combustion, is considered to be one of the most promising solutions to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the industry. It is the focus of extensive research both by engine manufacturers including MANN and Wartsila as well as the leading shipbuilders.

Under the leadership of the Science and Information Department of COSCO Shipping Group, the research program was launched involving COSCO Shipping, the China Classification Society, the American Bureau of Shipping, MAN Energy Solutions, and China’s Marine Design and Research Institute (MARIC) Design.

The joint R&D team conducted in-depth research on the application of ammonia fuel for a VLCC. Among the efforts they undertook was research into the optimization of ship type parameters, overall layout for the vessel, ammonia fuel tank selection and layout, ammonia fuel system research, and a risk assessment analysis. 

This ship type was based on the latest generation of 310,000 dwt VLCC jointly developed by COSCO SHIPPING Heavy Industry and China Shipbuilding Ocean Engineering Design and Research Institute. While ensuring the advancement of various performance indicators, the design was based on the use of MAN ammonia fuel main engines. The design incorporated two 6000m³ C-type ammonia fuel tanks. According to COSCO, the vessel will have the capability to complete a round-trip voyage on the Middle East route. 

The design received the Approval in Principle (AiP) from both ABS and the China Classification Society.  COSCO said that the successful research and development of this ship type provided technical reserves which they expect to be able to use for the future market acceptance of zero-carbon fuel ship types.

South Korea’s shipbuilders have so far been leading most of the research into the construction of ammonia-fueled vessels. Hyundai Heavy Industries and Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. said in September that they had jointly received the first Approval in Principle for the design of an ammonia carrier with ammonia-fueled propulsion granted by Bureau Veritas. Samsung Heavy Industries has also received several approvals, including from Lloyd's Register for an ammonia-fueled tanker design and from DNV for a VLCC that would be ammonia-ready. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and MAN Energy Solutions also received approval for an ammonia-fueled 23,000 TEU ultra-large containership design.