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A Preliminary Study on an Alternative Ship Propulsion System Fueled by Ammonia: Environmental and Economic Assessments


The shipping industry is becoming increasingly aware of its environmental responsibilities in the long-term. In 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% by the year 2050 as compared with a baseline value from 2008. Ammonia has been regarded as one of the potential carbon-free fuels for ships based on these environmental issues. In this paper, we propose four propulsion systems for a 2500 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) container feeder ship. All of the proposed systems are fueled by ammonia; however, different power systems are used: main engine, generators, polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), and solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Further, these systems are compared to the conventional main engine propulsion system that is fueled by heavy fuel oil, with a focus on the economic and environmental perspectives. By comparing the conventional and proposed systems, it is shown that ammonia can be a carbon-free fuel for ships. Moreover, among the proposed systems, the SOFC power system is the most eco-friendly alternative (up to 92.1%), even though it requires a high lifecycle cost than the others. Although this study has some limitations and assumptions, the results indicate a meaningful approach toward solving GHG problems in the maritime industry.

Funding source: This work was supported by the ‘RnD Platform Establishment of EcoFriendly Hydrogen Propulsion Ship’ (No. 20006636, ‘Development of test facility and method for MW class hydrogen FC ESS system of ship’) funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE, Korea).
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Korea, Republic of

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