German vehicle manufacturer MAN has developed an engine that uses ammonia as a fuel for container ships. There are no CO2 emissions. The backgrounds.

In order for us to achieve our climate goals in the coming years, a rethink must take place in many areas. However, the mobility industry is currently still facing major challenges. Dirty diesel, kerosene or oil engines often continue to operate the largest vehicles.

Many companies in the shipping industry are therefore considering how they can achieve the ambitious climate targets of the various countries. In addition to using hydrogen as a fuel, the German vehicle manufacturer MAN is now bringing another fuel into play: ammonia.

Ammonia engine: A zero-emissions container ship

MAN Energy Solutions is currently experimenting with a new combustion engine at a test center in Copenhagen. Further steps are now being taken to establish the technology in practice. The advantage of an ammonia engine: Operation does not release any CO2.

But ammonia also has disadvantages. In everyday operation, such an engine releases nitrogen oxides and nitrous oxide. If an accident occurs, there is an acute danger for the environment, because ammonia is corrosive. In addition, the climate balance only improves if the fuel is produced with renewable energies.

Emissions in shipping are to be reduced by 70 percent by 2050

Despite the risks, MAN sees a great opportunity for the technology. In order to minimize possible risks, the company relies on additional measures. All lines that transport ammonia are double-walled. The most recent test engine still has one cylinder. According to the company, a model with eight or more cylinders should be available by 2024.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) plans to reduce emissions by a maximum of 70 percent by 2050. Around 2.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are currently attributable to the sector. That corresponds to around 950 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

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