Are Bocimar’s 10 ammonia-fuelled bulk carriers the game changer?

A sister company of bulk operator Bocimar has made the first orders for ammonia-fuelled two-stroke engines, which it will co-develop with engine designer WinGD.

The engines are destined for a series of ten Newcastlemax (210,000dwt) vessels to be delivered from a Chinese shipyard in 2025-2026. Alternative fuel specialist CMB.Tech, like Bocimar part of the Belgian shipping group owned by the Saverys family, will be involved in developing the new X72DF-A engines from the early design phase.


CMB.Tech has considerable experience with both hydrogen and ammonia. It has already designed hydrogen-powered vessels and is building renewable ammonia plants for use in landbased applications. A fellow Saverys-owned company, Exmar, operates a large fleet of LPG and ammonia carrier vessels and the experience of handling the fuel as cargo will also be valuable as the new engine is developed.


CMB chief executive Alexander Saverys said: “We believe that ammonia is the most promising zero-carbon fuel for deep sea vessels. Our intention is to have dual-fuel ammonia-diesel engines on our dry bulk vessels, container vessels and chemical tankers. Collaborating with WinGD on the development of the first ammonia-fuelled two-stroke engines for our fleet is a pioneering partnership on the road to zero emissions in shipping.”


WinGD will base its new dual-fuel engine – using the high-pressure Diesel Cycle rather than the low-pressure Otto Cycle employed by its established LNG-burning X-DF engines – on the X92B. The diesel-fuelled engine is commonly deployed on ultra-large container vessels due to its power, efficiency and reliability, which the designer said makes it an ideal starting point for the ammonia-fuelled engine.


The engine order from WinGD will surprise many in the industry; the leading two-stroke engine designer, MAN Energy Solutions, has been far more vocal about its developments towards an ammonia-fuelled engine. But although testing is advancing rapidly, it has yet to publicise a firm order.


Newcastlemax vessels are a likely early adopter of ammonia fuel due to the emerging trade dynamic between Australia and Japan. Under a deal agreed early last year, Australia will export hydrogen and ammonia from renewable electricity to Japan, which aims to reduce emissions from its national grid by fueling powerplants with a combination of coal and ammonia. That ensures the availability of ammonia fuel for the considerable bulk traffic carrying iron ore and coal from Australia.

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