New recommendations for design and operation of ammonia-fuelled vessels


Safety risks of ammonia as a fuel can only be mitigated if effective technical and operational safeguards are implemented whilst addressing human factors considerations.

A joint study into ammonia safety onboard ships undertaken by the Lloyd’s Register (LR) Maritime Decarbonisation Hub and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping (MMMCZCS), has found that a range of mitigation methods, from ship design to crew training and operations, are required to keep toxicity risks to crew within published tolerable limits.

‘Recommendations for Design and Operation of Ammonia-Fuelled Vessels based on Multi-disciplinary Risk Analysis’ presents the most comprehensive study to date of the effectiveness of risk mitigation measures in three ammonia-fuelled vessels – a container ship, a tanker and a bulk carrier.

Seen as one of the most promising alternative fuels for the maritime energy transition, ammonia can be combusted with almost no carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, using ammonia as a shipping fuel can create potential safety hazards, including toxicity. It is crucial for shipping’s stakeholders to understand the risks of ammonia as a shipping fuel and the safeguards that can be implemented to reduce them to tolerable levels.

Using Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) analysis, a powerful data-driven method that allows users to assess risk in a quantitative and granular manner, the joint study has been able to identify vessel design and operational measures that would reduce ammonia risks to a tolerable level.

Dr. Andy Franks, Senior Decarbonisation Risk Specialist, LR Maritime Decarbonisation Hub, said: “The global energy transition drives a move from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources, which inevitably brings about new safety challenges and the need for shipping to manage more complex hazards. Our approach to understanding and mitigating the risks of ammonia as a shipping fuel incorporates both a quantitative data-driven approach to ship design as well as a human factors approach to address crew safety. Through these two approaches we provide practical insights that will support the industry in managing safety risks to crew within published tolerable limits.”

Claus Winter Graugaard, Chief Technology Officer, Onboard Vessel Solutions, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, said: “To enable sustainable and scalable new energy pathways such as ammonia as a marine fuel, we must advance technological developments.

However, in the eagerness to transform, we must do so without compromising safety and reliability, by employing a strong risk-based change management approach. Care of our seafarers and strong safety management are imperative. This study has given us deep insights into risk and will provide critical understanding and intelligence to help guide the industry towards safe application of ammonia as a marine fuel.”