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Hydrogen yacht maker Vinssen aims to develop ammonia-powered ships

From right: Vinssen CEO Lee Chil-han, the Korea Institute of Energy Research President Kim Jong-nam and CES CEO Kang Young-chul pose after signing an agreement to crack hydrogen from ammonia and utilize the extacted hydrogen for ships in Daejeon on Thursday. (Vinssen)
From right: Vinssen CEO Lee Chil-han, the Korea Institute of Energy Research President Kim Jong-nam and CES CEO Kang Young-chul pose after signing an agreement to crack hydrogen from ammonia and utilize the extacted hydrogen for ships in Daejeon on Thursday. (Vinssen)
Vinssen, a South Korean company that manufactures hydrogen powertrains for ships, said Friday it has joined hands with local partners to utilize liquid ammonia to power ships.

The company, which unveiled the country’s first commercialized hydrogen electric boat at Busan International Boat Show this year, will collaborate with the Korea Institute of Energy Research and domestic engineering firm CES to develop technologies and equipment to break ammonia into hydrogen, which then can be utilized as fuel for hydrogen ships.

Liquid ammonia has clear advantages as an alternative marine fuel, compared to the liquid hydrogen fuel cells being developed by shipbuilders as part of their efforts to achieve net-zero emissions.

“Compared to liquid hydrogen, which has to be stored at minus 253 degrees Celsius, hydrogen can be stored at minus 33 degrees Celsius if converted into the form of liquid ammonia,” a Vinssen official said. “Also, liquid ammonia can store 1.7 times more hydrogen than liquid hydrogen, as it can keep ammonia at greater density.”

Liquid ammonia-powered ships will also be able to travel longer distances than liquid hydrogen ones, the official added.

Vinssen, which was selected as the “Next Ocean Star” company by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries this year, is currently conducting feasibility tests on its hydrogen electric yacht, Hydrogenia, in the coastal waters off Ulsan.

In July, Vinssen secured investments worth 14.5 billion won ($12.3 million) from nine investors and is currently developing a hydrogen powertrain to replace a fossil fuel-based system for Navig8, a Singapore-based global tanker company.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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