Photo of ship taken from above

Introducing our Ammonia-Prepared notation and Rule Note

To support ship owners, Bureau Veritas is developing new Rules for ammonia as fuel and requirements for a class notation (Ammonia-Prepared).

The future of ammonia is looking bright, with the shipping industry increasingly considering it as an alternative fuel option for achieving marine decarbonization and meeting sustainability targets. For ship operators, using ammonia would mean sailing without emitting CO2. This would enable vessels to comply with the long-term environmental objectives of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for reducing CO2 emissions, while minimizing shipping companies’ environmental footprint.

Managing challenges for ammonia as fuel

However, there are still several challenges for ship owners and operators looking to use ammonia as fuel. Ammonia has a lower energy density than other fuels: about half that of LNG, and about a third that of standard fuel oil. This means that vessels need to carry a substantial amount of ammonia fuel onboard to sail over long distances, unless the ship’s operational profile allows for frequent bunkering stops. Additionally, the poor combustibility properties of ammonia may require the use of significant amounts of pilot fuel, which must be carbon neutral (e.g., biofuels, green hydrogen) for clean operations.

Another key challenge with using ammonia as fuel is toxicity. Preventing crew or passenger exposure to ammonia is crucial, as ammonia is toxic and lethal above a certain threshold. While ammonia has long been transported as cargo, and personnel aboard ammonia carriers are trained to handle the substance, this remains a specific market. More specific crew safety training would be necessary before ships could safely use ammonia as fuel.

Ammonia-Prepared and NR 671

To support ship owners, designers, shipyards and charterers in advancing their journey toward using ammonia, Bureau Veritas has developed a new notation: Ammonia-Prepared. Applicable to newbuilds, Ammonia-Prepared certifies that a ship has been designed and constructed to later be converted to use ammonia as fuel. The notation targets the spaces and structural components that will accommodate future ammonia fuel tanks, fuel handling equipment and ammonia vapor treatment installations. Ammonia-Prepared also covers specific requirements for the conversion of engines and boilers from using fuel oil, LNG or multiple fuels to ammonia.

In parallel, Bureau Veritas has developed a new Rule Note for ammonia as fuel: NR 671. It primarily concerns the safety aspects of managing ammonia in storage tanks, fuel-piping systems and during bunkering. NR 671 will be published in its earliest form on July 1, 2021 along with the requirements for the Ammonia Prepared notation.

Working toward a sustainable future

Ammonia is considered a key fuel on the road to the IMO’s 2030 and 2050 GHG and carbon reduction targets, and Bureau Veritas is working hard to advance its safe development. We are part of a joint industry project to assess the risks of ammonia, having participated in a HAZID workshop for an ammonia-fueled VLCC in 2020, as well as the follow-up HAZOP workshop in 2021. We also recently provided an Approval in Principle to longtime client GTT for the development of an ammonia-ready tank.

At Bureau Veritas, we believe that ammonia is a top contender for a long-term, zero carbon fuel solution for the marine industry, along with zero carbon fuels like hydrogen. Our goal is to continue helping clients safely develop this alternative fuel and advance their energy transition journey.