Ammonia could be powering ships within the decade

Roger Harrabin writes on the BBC website that ocean-going ships could be powered by ammonia within the decade. The industry hopes ammonia will help it tackle climate change, because it burns without CO2 emissions. The creation of the ammonia itself creates substantial CO2, but a report says technology can solve this problem.

 

Fertiliser could be used to power ocean-going ships

Ocean-going ships could be powered by ammonia within the decade as the shipping industry takes action to curb carbon emissions.

The chemical – the key ingredient of fertilisers – can be burned in ships’ engines in place of polluting diesel.

The industry hopes ammonia will help it tackle climate change, because it burns without CO2 emissions.

The creation of the ammonia itself creates substantial CO2, but a report says technology can solve this problem.

The challenge is huge, because shipping produces around 2% of global carbon emissions – about the same as the whole German economy.

Making ammonia is also a major source of carbon. A report by the Royal Society says ammonia production currently creates 1.8% of global CO2 emissions – the most of any chemical industry.

But the authors of the report say new technology can create zero carbon ammonia. One way is by trapping the CO2 emissions created when ammonia is produced, and burying the CO2 in underground rocks.

Another way of making so-called “green” ammonia is to use renewable energy which doesn’t create any CO2.

But the big question is whether enough clean energy will be available to create ammonia at scale in the coming decades.

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