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Thursday, April 30, 2020 

Imabari Shipbuilding, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsui E&S Machinery, ClassNK, Itochu Enex and Itochu Corporation have agreed to cooperate in a development programme for ships equipped with main engines using ammonia as main fuel (image: C-Job Naval Architects).

With international momentum towards the transition to a decarbonised society, IMO adopted a strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the shipping industry in 2018. This strategy set targets to reduce CO2 emissions as an average across international shipping by at least 40% by 2030 (compared to 2008 levels), by 50% by 2050, and to phase them out entirely (zero-emissions) during this century.

In order to achieve these goals, the early development of zero-emission ships is anticipated with ammonia a prime candidate for a suitable zero-emission, alternative fuel.

The purpose of the joint agreement is not limited solely to the development of ships equipped with an Ammonia-fuelled engine, but extends to the question of owning and operating the ships, supplying ammonia fuel and developing ammonia supply facilities. The consortium intends to promote initiatives to reduce GHGs with the cooperation of domestic and overseas companies, as well as the relevant government agencies.

Imabari will develop the design for the ship that mounts a series of systems practically and safely on board, such as an ammonia fuel storage tank fuel supply system, and the main engine.

MAN will develop an Ammonia-fuelled engine and provide the key data necessary for ship design using such an engine. Mitsui E&S Machinery will work with MAN to develop the engine, contributing to the project from a supplier's point of view, verifying the safety and reliability of the entire life cycle of the propulsion system, including manufacturing and commissioning at the factory.

ClassNK will conduct a third-party safety assessment and contribute its knowledge of expert safety evaluation and standards as a ship safety inspection organisation, and develop industry guidelines based on the results obtained.

Itochu Enex will investigate the setting up of an ammonia fuel distribution network by making use of its experience in marine fuel supply and bunkering, while Itochu Corp will work on commercialisation of the project, forming partnerships in Japan and overseas  with various industries and companies such as shipper, shipping company, ammonia producer and other related parties. It will work with Itochu Enex on developing a facility for supplying ammonia fuel for ships.

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