Aramco-backed startup Amogy rushes to develop ammonia as fuel

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LONDON (Reuters) – South Korean firm SK Innovation led the latest $46 million funding round for climate tech start-up Amogy, which aims to accelerate the shift to zero-emission fuels for heavy industries such as than shipping, its chief executive told Reuters.

With transport accounting for around 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the company said it aims to help the transition to greener fuels by converting carbon-free ammonia into electricity.

Widely used in industrial applications, ammonia’s suitability as a transportation fuel has been limited due to the technical challenge of converting the chemical to energy in a confined space.

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“The problem the company solves is basically the battery problem,” said Seonghoon Woo, CEO of Amogy. While useful for small electric vehicles, means of transport such as ships, trucks and planes need a fuel with a higher energy density.

“The energy storage system we built basically converts ammonia into electrons very efficiently in a small footprint, so you can use it in different vehicles.”

Besides SK Innovation and Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, others are supporting the round, including retailer Amazon, through its Climate Pledge Fund, TSTIME Ventures and Newlab, Amogy said.

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This brings Amogy’s total funding to nearly $70 million since its inception in 2020, Woo said.

He said the money would be used to develop Amogy’s technology for trials in sectors such as shipping, where he plans to test a demonstration vessel over the next year with the aim of developing a ammonia-based energy for ocean-going ships.

With around 90% of global trade transported by sea, shipping accounts for nearly 3% of global CO2 emissions, but environmental campaigners say the sector’s efforts to cut emissions are too slow.

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The goal of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is to reduce global GHG emissions from ships by 50% below 2008 levels by 2050, below targets set by countries like the United States which lobbied for the agency to adopt a goal of zero emissions by 2050.

The IMO said it will publish a revised GHG strategy in 2023.

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