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Tuesday, May 18, 2021 

Italian classification society RINA is convinced of the necessity to support the energy transition by offering a comprehensive regulatory framework capable of addressing the technical issues related to each fuel identified as a possible driver of shipping’s decarbonisation.

The importance of reducing the impact of shipping on climate is well recognised by the industry and regulatory bodies. It is also the main target of the IMO carbon emission reduction strategy, under which most experts consider the introduction of alternative fuels as a key success factor. To date it is not clear to RINA which low-CO2 emissions fuel will drive the decarbonisation of the marine sector: biofuels, ammonia, hydrogen or nuclear. The final choice will not be made by the maritime industry alone and will be heavily dependent on the evolution of the onshore industry’s decarbonisation path.

Ammonia may be, to some extent, an interesting future marine fuel option. Nevertheless, many issues remain to be solved before a large-scale introduction, starting from its availability (especially considering its availability from renewable sources) and distribution worldwide. So in the last year, RINA made its own research, started Joint Development Projects with important designers, involving marine equipment makers and shipowners to gather information and knowhow on ammonia as a fuel. Following this work, RINA has published a first edition of the rules for the use of Ammonia as fuel.

Based on the IGF Code where goals and functional requirements are established for ships using gases or other low-flashpoint fuels, the rules follow the same pattern of IGF Code requirements for LNG. They carefully consider the ammonia toxic characteristics and adopt general preventive measures to be confirmed and completed by an extensive risk assessment to be carried out on the specific arrangement under consideration.

Ammonia is not yet ready for bunkering in all ports or for widespread use, but the design of a new ship can be developed to consider how the vessel can be arranged to be fuelled by ammonia. For this reason, in addition to the new rules, RINA has also published the requirements for an additional class notation “Ammonia Ready” on a traditionally fuelled ship.

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