Study by Ricardo calls for ammonia bunker fuel regulatory framework

The study by consulting firm Ricardo, on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with support from Lloyd’s Register, into the potential marine environmental impacts from bunkering operations, ship collisions and sinkings found estuaries, mangroves and wetlands are particularly sensitive to potential ammonia fuel spills compared to the polar regions and deep sea.

Within these habitats, it is typically fish and particularly ecosystems with less saline water and higher temperatures that are most sensitive to an ammonia spill, with birds and mammals to a lesser degree, the report said.

The results were compared to previously studied habitat and species’ sensitivity to conventional oil-based fuels, showing a relatively smaller dispersion distance and lower persistence within the environment when compared to heavy fuel oil (HFO) and marine gas oil (MGO). Existing reports show that oil-based fuels have higher impacts on invertebrates and birds, compared with ammonia. Ammonia has a medium impact on all other ecological receptors, except bacteria, whereas oil-based fuels have medium impacts on plankton, fish, macrophytes, reptiles and marine mammals.

till, the report warned that the potential toxicity of ammonia cannot be ignored and that without mitigation measures and solid spill management practices, an ammonia fuel spill could have negative impacts on aquatic environments.

This study is a first look at ammonia’s potential ecological impacts as a fuel and calls for further research to evaluate the full range of ecological and health implications, including the increased nitrogen deposition from chronic ammonia leakage and combustion by-products, to determine its safety.

Tags: Ammonia, Bunker Fuel, EDF, Ricardo