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Using ammonia as a shipping fuel could disturb the nitrogen cycle

Ammonia has been proposed as a shipping fuel, yet potential adverse side-effects are poorly understood. We argue that if nitrogen releases from ammonia are not tightly controlled, the scale of the demands of maritime transport are such that the global nitrogen cycle could be substantially altered.

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Fig. 1: Global anthropogenic reactive nitrogen production by source, 2000–2015.

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Acknowledgements

In the course of our research, we reached out to a large network of scientists specializing in a variety of relevant fields, including nitrogen cycling, energy modeling, emissions estimation, and combustion physics. Their contributions were essential for this Comment. We wish to thank especially Felix Leach, Jasper Verschuur, Rene Banares (Oxford Uni), Martin Haigh (Shell), Epaminondas Mastorakos, Pedro M. de Oliveira (Cambridge Uni), David McCollum (ORNL), Matteo Craglia, Luis Martinez (ITF/OECD), Christopher Ramig (US EPA), Jackson Bryan (Uni Georgia), Bryan Comer, Dan Rutherford (ICCT), Maridee Weber, Haewon McJeon, Jay Fuhrman, and Patrick O’Rourke (JGCRI).

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Correspondence to Paul Wolfram.

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Nature Energy thanks Eiko Nemitz, Agustin Valera-Medina and Elizabeth Lindstad for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Wolfram, P., Kyle, P., Zhang, X. et al. Using ammonia as a shipping fuel could disturb the nitrogen cycle. Nat Energy 7, 1112–1114 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-022-01124-4

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