• Amogy lands $139M to scale ammonia tech for zero-emissions cargo ships
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Amogy lands $139M to scale ammonia tech for zero-emissions cargo ships

The startup is working to launch an ammonia-powered vessel in New York as the global shipping industry searches for cleaner fuels.
By Maria Gallucci

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An artistic rendering shows a white, blue and orange tugboat with Amogy's logo sailing through the open water
An artist's rendering shows Amogy's ammonia-powered tugboat design. (Amogy)

A U.S. startup that is working to build one of the world’s first ammonia-powered ships has raised $139 million to help scale its emissions-free technology.

On Wednesday, Brooklyn-based Amogy said it secured the Series B-1 funding in a round led by South Korean conglomerate SK Innovations. Other investors include Singapore’s state holding company Temasek, the corporate-venture arm of oil giant Saudi Aramco, plus the investment firms AP Ventures and DCVC.

Amogy’s technology represents a key breakthrough in the usage of ammonia as a fuel,” Jun Kim, vice chairman and CEO of SK Innovation, said in a statement. We want to make sure Amogy has the resources it needs to make zero-emission shipping a reality.”

The announcement arrives as global shipping regulators are meeting in London this week to negotiate measures for curbing the industry’s planet-warming emissions.

International shipping accounts for roughly 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions every year. Cargo ships and harbor craft also produce a litany of smog-forming, health-harming air pollutants that pose risks to waterside communities.

The International Maritime Organization, a U.N. body, has called for curbing annual shipping-related emissions by at least 50 percent compared to 2008 levels by 2050, and for full decarbonization of the sector as soon as possible within this century.” Environmental groups are urging IMO negotiators to accelerate those goals by halving emissions by 2030 and reaching zero emissions by 2040 — targets that more closely align with broader efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

To trigger shipping’s great transition, we need to be true to the science and set ambitious targets,” John Maggs, president of the Clean Shipping Coalition, said in a recent statement. These will set the scene for urgent short-term emission cuts, unlock green investment and stop the industry from wasting billions on false solutions like fossil [liquefied natural gas].”

In the short term, it’s not entirely clear what alternative fuels companies will use to replace fossil fuels in cargo ships, though the shipping giant Maersk is investing heavily in lower-carbon green methanol” for its own fleet. In the long run, experts predict ammonia will become the leading fuel source for the world’s giant ocean-crossing vessels.

Ammonia — composed of one part nitrogen, three parts hydrogen — is mainly used today to make fertilizers, plastics and cleaning products. But shipping companies and industry experts say it holds promise for ships for a few key reasons: The compound doesn’t produce carbon dioxide emissions; it’s relatively energy-dense; and the global infrastructure already exists to produce, store and transport ammonia.

Amogy is among a growing number of companies working to make ammonia fuel a reality.

An old red-and-orange tugboat is docked off an empty concrete pier
Amogy is retrofitting a 65-year-old tugboat in New York state. (Amogy)

The Brooklyn startup is developing a chemical reactor to take ammonia stored in fuel tanks and crack” the compound into hydrogen and nitrogen. The hydrogen flows through a fuel cell, which converts chemical energy into electricity to drive the motors. In January, Amogy said it successfully tested300-kilowatt ammonia-to-power system in a semitruck, after having previously demonstrated smaller systems in a John Deere tractor and a drone.

Now Amogy is designing a 1-megawatt version to power a red-and-orange tugboat. Recently, the startup began retrofitting the 65-year-old vessel at a shipyard in New York state, replacing its diesel generators with the ammonia-to-power system. Later this year, the boat should be sailing up an inland waterway using Amogy’s ammonia-to-power system, the company previously told Canary Media.

Seonghoon Woo, CEO of Amogy, said the new funding round will help us to see our mission of forging a path toward net-zero 2050 through and, in turn, make the world more sustainable.”

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Maria Gallucci is a senior reporter at Canary Media. She covers emerging clean energy technologies and efforts to electrify transportation and decarbonize heavy industry.