Technology and mining company Fortescue has completed the world’s first use of ammonia shipping fuel, in combination with diesel in the combustion process, on its Fortescue Green Pioneer ship. 

The pioneering ship was first converted to run with ammonia on two of its four engine in 2022, before conducting land-based testing in 2023 and a showcase at COP28 in Dubai, UAE in the lead up to the first use of ammonia to power the ship on water in the Port of Singapore. 

Dr Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue, said: “The Fortescue Green Pioneer is proof that safe, technical solutions for ammonia power engines exist. 

“But as I did at COP 28 in Dubai, I am once again calling on the world’s ports to get on with setting fair, safe and stringent fuel standards for green ammonia and not shy away from their responsibilities simply because of a lack of character.” 

Fortescue’s trial used five cubic metres of liquid ammonia supplied by Vopak from its Banyan Terminal on Jurong Island, where it will be loaded with a further five cubic metres of fuel for a series of test and trials over the next few weeks. 

The seven week long trial also saw the ship gain flag approval from the Singapore Registry of Ships and receive the “gas fuelled ammonia” notation by classification society DNV, approving its use of ammonia in combination with diesel. 

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Teo Eng Dih, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), said: “The safe conduct of this fuel trial supports the holistic assessment of the use of ammonia as a marine fuel, and the development of standards and safety procedures. 

“This will inform the crew training, emergency and bunkering procedures which MPA, agencies and the tripartite community are developing in support of making available safe and cost-efficient solutions.” 

Despite being the first to use the fuel with diesel at sea, Fortescue is far from the only company looking at ammonia as a potential green fuel to address the maritime industry’s net zero ambitions with other players such as Ocean Network Express also working on ammonia-powered ship designs. 

Additionally, companies have also been looking at different ways to use ammonia, including in combination with hydrogen, with Amogy’s Anastasija Kuprijanova recently describing her company’s ammonia cracking technology to Ship Technology.