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SafeAm – Increased safety of ammonia handling for maritime operations

Ammonia (NH3) has intrinsic risks due to toxicity and flammability.

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While used as fertilizer for decades, accidents leading to severe injuries and deaths have been reported during production, storage and use. Concerns about ammonia safety for large-scale implementation in the maritime offshore industry are raising, especially about the effects of large releases on and into water.

SafeAm aims at accelerating the implementation of new value chains for ammonia as a zero-emission fuel and energy carrier by improving safety systems’ design and procedures for handling accidental spills. SafeAm will develop an experimental dataset and complex thermo-physical models to increase the quantitative understanding of ammonia dissolution, mixing and evaporation. The PIRATE-tool will be a new tool developed by the project for calculating the uptake of ammonia in seawater and the amount dispersed in the air. Risk trade-offs, safety Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and regulatory guidance will also be the focus of SafeAm.

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SafeAm will secure the feasibility of ongoing efforts and investments towards emerging ammonia technologies for use on the waterways. This will be accomplished by a full-chain cross-disciplinary effort, closing key knowledge gaps.

Through experiments with increased fidelity and an expanded parameter space combined with thermodynamics modelling, SafeAm enables the quantitative description of the effects of liquid refrigerated ammonia spills on and into water. This will be represented by a thermodynamic model developed in the framework of the project, which gives input to ammonia-dispersion models both in air and in water. Based on this, the extent of the toxic cloud in atmosphere and the hazards for humans will be assessed for relevant and realistic spill scenarios.  

In addition, novel environmental risk-maps based on liquid ammonia spill-to-sea behaviours will be produced.

Risk trade-offs between the benefit to the environment related to climate change and new risks to human and environment will be used as support for societal acceptance.

Finally, input to standardization and guidelines will result from the work in SafeAm, defining up a set of safe handling procedures for application of NH3 over water considering the specific risk factors and criticalities. The findings thus will widen the horizon for quantitative risk assessment of alternative fuel applications.

SINTEF works with these parts of the project:

  • Experiments of ammonia spills on and into water for the characterisation of evaporation and dissolution rate. Support for the experiments on mixing dynamic of liquid ammonia jets
  • Thermophysical modelling of the ammonia-water interface and mixing dynamics
  • Analysis of potential rapid phase transition effects and calculation of ammonia partition ratio
  • In-sea and in-air ammonia dispersion case studies
  • Safety and environmental risk analysis, risk trends and risk acceptance as well as input to standardization and guidelines



This project is a Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project partly funded by the Research Council of Norway.


Key Factors

Project duration

2023 - 2027