China-based Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) has received approval in principle (AiP) from the UK’s maritime classification society Lloyd’s Register (LR) for its ammonia-driven bulk carrier concept, called Newcastlemax.

By using its expertise in designs for ships powered by alternative fuels, LR will assess the new bulk carrier’s suitability and design risks.

Ammonia (NH₃) is said to be a ‘promising’ alternative fuel that can help marine energy to move away from carbon-based power sources.

LR Greater China Shanghai Technical Support Office general manager and vice-president Li Tianxiang said: “This is an exciting project, not only for LR who has had many firsts in this area, but for DSIC as this is the first design of its kind and shows its commitment to a transition to zero-carbon fuels.

“The award of this AiP is another important step toward the decarbonisation of the maritime industry, showing the feasibility of powering commercial vessels with zero-carbon solutions in the near future.”

In 2019, DSIC received AiP from LR for the concept design of the ammonia-driven and 23,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) ultra-large container ship, called C-Future.

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The company now has AiP for a 210,000dwt bulk carrier, which can be powered by zero-carbon ammonia shipping fuel.

DSIC deputy chief designer Guan Yinghua said: “DSIC has deep research expertise in low and zero-carbon vessel innovation, cooperating with LR classification on green ship research and development.”

In October 2021, DSIC won a contract from the Northern Lights joint venture (JV)) for the construction of two liquefied natural gas (LNG)-driven, wind-assisted CO₂ carriers.