Fortescue behind world's first successful ammonia marine fuel trial

Ammonia serves as a carrier for hydrogen and has been lauded as an alternative fuel for powering marine vessels as the world works toward net zero emissions.

Fortescue ammonia boat
Image: Fortescue

Fortescue, in collaboration with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and a host of supporting organisations, has successfully completing the world's first trial using ammonia as a marine fuel onboard the Singapore-flagged vessel, the Fortescue Green Pioneer, in the Port of Singapore.

Fortescue initiated testing of ammonia as a potential marine fuel in 2022, with the conversion of a four-stroke engine in Perth, Western Australia, to run on ammonia, in combination with diesel.

Subsequent conversion work on the Fortescue Green Pioneer at Seatrium’s Benoi yard included the installation of a gas fuel delivery system and safety infrastructure, enabling two of the vessel’s four engines to operate on ammonia alongside diesel.

In December 2023, the vessel sailed from Singapore to the Middle East, demonstrating its capabilities at international events, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dubai. The success of this journey heralded the potential of ammonia as a marine fuel.

Safety preparation and crew training were paramount in ensuring the success of the trial. Hazard identification workshops and specialized training in gas-specific emergency responses were conducted to guarantee operational readiness and safety during the trial period.

Liquid ammonia for the trial was supplied by global infrastructure specialists Vopak, from its existing infrastructure at the Vopak Banyan Terminal on Jurong Island, demonstrating the feasibility of using existing ammonia infrastructure for marine fuel purposes.

Risk management specialists DNV played a crucial role in providing class approval for the vessel's ammonia fuel systems and engine conversion, ensuring compliance with safety standards. This involved a thorough technology qualification process to guarantee the safety and performance of the vessel's retrofit systems.

Dr Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman of Fortescue, said, “Australia and Singapore are nations for whom the seas are our lifeblood and Fortescue has seen firsthand the willingness of Singapore to lead the world in taking brave, innovative action to build green ammonia shipping."

"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," Forrest continued.

"We must push to see global emitters paying fair carbon prices for heavy fuels used in traditional shipping. These prices must provide clear investment signals to drive green investment.”

To read more about the Green Pioneer, go to the Fortescue website here.

Industry Partners