Scientists unveil ammonia-based fuel for ships


Researchers from the Institute of Microtechnology and Microsystems named after Fraunhofer (IMM) in Germany is working on a new environmentally friendly ammonia-based fuel for cargo ships.

The study is part of the ShipFC project, which aims to present new solutions for maritime transport. Currently, ships are one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions.


According to the German Environment Agency (UBA), maritime transport accounts for 2.6% of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. In 2015 alone, about 932 million tons of CO2 were emitted, and this number is increasing every year.

Because of this scenario, the goal of the ShipFC project is to develop a new technology that is zero carbon and at the same time safe, cheap and reliable. In addition, it is essential that this alternative can be used on large long-distance vessels.

In addition to ammonia, there is also hydrogen research that is already at a more advanced stage. Plans to use this technology include buses, trucks and even Formula 1 cars starting in 2025.

What about ammonia?

Scheme of operation of a fuel cell based on ammonia, Photo: Institute of Microtechnology and Microsystems named after Fraunhofer.

Ammonia is a chemical compound widely used in agriculture as a fertilizer, but it can also be used as a highly efficient energy carrier. In addition, it has some advantages over hydrogen.

“Hydrogen must be stored at -253 ° in liquid form. Liquid ammonia can be stored at a reasonable temperature of -33 °, says Gunther Kolb, Director of Energy and Deputy Director of IMM.

Currently, the Fraunhofer Institute team plans to complete a miniature ammonia-based fuel cell prototype by the end of 2021, with a full-size cell on track by 2021.

Kolb’s team plans to launch the first ammonia-powered freighter, Viking Energy, of the Norwegian shipping company Eidesvik by the second half of 2023.

Via: Tech Xplore

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