A Q&A with Amogy CEO on ammonia power for shipping

Written by Heather Ervin
Amogy's CEO, Seonghoon Woo

Amogy's CEO, Seonghoon Woo

Seonghoon Woo is the CEO of Amogy, a company using “ammonia cracking” modules to convert ammonia into hydrogen plus nitrogen to decarbonize the heavy-duty and shipping transportation industry. Amogy recently became an NYSERDA Northeast Hydrogen hub partner.

Marine Log (ML): Although the research has yet to be conducted, what can you tell us about ammonia power solutions for the maritime industry?

Seonghoon Woo (SW): Some of the most promising applications for ammonia power in the maritime industry involve ammonia as a carrier for hydrogen, offering an efficient and safe method for delivering hydrogen to a fuel cell. Ammonia is carbon-free and three times more energy dense than hydrogen, making it both a clean and efficient solution for vessels on short- and long-distance routes. The refueling process for ammonia-powered vessels is also easier and faster compared to battery charging—not to mention size and weight constraints that come with battery power for larger ocean-going vessels.

Ammonia is also well-known in the maritime shipping industry, with bunkering locations for fueling being developed around the world. As a globally traded commodity, ammonia is shipped from nearly 200 ports worldwide and backed by robust transportation, storage, and handling infrastructure. As interest in ammonia as a fuel gains momentum, industry regulators and advisors are developing regulations and guidelines for its use.

ML: What will the research entail and what are you hoping to find?

SW: Identifying a viable, scalable method for extracting hydrogen from ammonia at the point of use (i.e. onboard vessels or at industrial sites) has been one of the biggest challenges in large-scale hydrogen fuel adoption. Amogy’s platform includes a proprietary ammonia cracking technology that separates the hydrogen molecules for use in a traditional fuel cell. Our platform has already been demonstrated in an aerial drone and mid-size farming tractor.

In this research endeavor with Trafigura, Amogy’s ammonia-to-power platform will be assessed for use in large-scale applications that involve using ammonia as a carrier to transport large amounts of hydrogen from the point of production to the point of consumption. This includes hydrogen supply for pipelines, fuel cell vehicles, steel manufacturing and thermal power plants. Our hope is to identify opportunities to scale our platform to support the global hydrogen market and broader decarbonization goals.

ML: How did the partnership between Amogy and Trafigura come to be and what role do the companies play in global maritime shipping?

SW: Since we founded Amogy, maritime shipping has been a key target market for our ammonia-to-power technology, both due to the industry’s noted push to decarbonize and our platform’s potential to deliver clean power at scale through ammonia cracking.

As a major player in the global supply chain industry, Trafigura is very aware of the need for low-carbon energy sources to support infrastructure and logistics within maritime shipping. With the emergence of hydrogen and ammonia fueling options for maritime shipping, Trafigura’s understanding of supply chain economics and regional markets will be relied upon to assess and eventually deploy innovative clean hydrogen solutions to their customers.

Partnering with Trafigura was strategic because, by working jointly, we can better understand the economics of the ammonia supply chain and identify opportunities for large-scale ammonia cracking. Trafigura is interested in acquiring technologies that enable transportation and use of zero-emission fuels at scale. Ammonia is a cost-competitive hydrogen carrier. Cracking it at the receiving location, using a platform like Amogy’s, will facilitate large-scale adoption of clean hydrogen.

ML: Recently, Amogy received Approval in Principle from Lloyd’s Register for its ammonia-to-power system for maritime applications. What can you tell us about this exciting development?

SW: Lloyd’s Register is a maritime classification society responsible for ensuring new maritime technologies meet safety requirements. The maritime industry is known for strict approval processes and guidelines for any new technologies that will be used on oceangoing vessels, in ports or during fuel transportation. Receiving the AiP from LR is a very important and encouraging step that confirms our platform is aligned with industry needs and standards. While there are other qualification and approval steps we’ll need to take as we move ahead with partnerships and projects in the maritime industry, this milestone sets us on track to demonstrate our ammonia-to-power technology in a maritime vessel in 2023 and on to commercialization further down the road.

ML: What are your thoughts on the maritime industry’s push toward lower or zero emissions?

SW: When it comes to decarbonization, shipping remains one of the hardest to abate industries so it’s very encouraging to see industry leaders embarking on efforts to lower emissions across multiple states of their operations. While many are motivated by the need to meet climate goals and regulations being put forth by industry groups and governing bodies, many forward-thinking leaders and companies in this space are ready to lead the transition toward cleaner operations. That’s why Amogy is actively pursuing partnerships and research efforts in the maritime industry—we cannot achieve large-scale change alone, it will take collaboration between technology providers, regulators and shipping companies of all sizes to bring solutions to market and set the industry on a path to net zero.

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