GEA supports shipping industry as a system supplier in solutions for the fuels of the future – ammonia is one option

Shipping companies and shipping lines that rely on ammonia as an alternative to diesel and heavy fuel oil for marine engine fuels can count on GEA’s support in developing appropriate technologies. GEA plans to support the shipping industry in reducing emissions as a system supplier with in-house solutions. This was announced by the machinery and plant manufacturer and systems supplier GEA at the international “Ship Efficiency” conference in Hamburg on September 27 and 28, 2021. In developing appropriate concepts for the use of ammonia (NH3), GEA relies on its many years of experience and expertise in separator technology as well as refrigeration and heating technology using natural refrigerants such as CO2 and ammonia.

“In 30 years, around a quarter of the ships on the oceans will be powered by ammonia”  

To reduce harmful emissions, more and more ships will be powered by alternative fuels to heavy fuel oil and diesel in the future. Experts from DNV, an international classification society and service provider in the fields of technical consulting, engineering services, certification and risk management, predict that in around 30 years at the latest, around a quarter of all ships on the world’s oceans will be powered by ammonia – alongside diesel, liquefied petroleum gas, heavy fuel oil and biofuels.

Decarbonizing shipping

With the fuel ammonia and a five percent diesel blend, shipping can be almost completely decarbonized in the long term. The reason is that ammonia burns without emitting CO2. However, the decisive factor in terms of climate friendliness is that the energy-intensive production of ammonia is switched to renewable energy sources. Another advantage is that ammonia also transports hydrogen bound in the molecule (NH3), which can be converted into electricity on site in fuel cells. Another clear argument in favor of ammonia is that there is a great deal of experience worldwide in production, storage and logistics. Of course, as mentioned above, production still needs to be converted to renewable sources. In addition, it can be expected that there will be a stable supply of ammonia, since many places are working on production methods for ammonia based on renewable energy.

GEA with a lot of experience in technical handling and safety precautions for ammonia

GEA has developed a lot of expertise in the properties relevant to ship design and technical handling on board. In addition, there is a great deal of experience in safety precautions for handling ammonia. At ambient pressure, it already becomes liquid at minus 33°C and is therefore less costly in terms of energy to handle and keep cool than natural gas (liquefied natural gas – LNG), where this temperature is around -160°C. In the case of hydrogen, the temperature would even be around -260°C. In the case of hydrogen, the temperature would be around -5°C. For hydrogen, it would even be around -250°C. It is therefore relatively easy and requires relatively little energy to keep ammonia liquid