Wärtsilä has reached a major milestone with its 50DF line of engines, receiving an order to supply its 100 LNG carrier with the dual-fuel technology, representing approximately one quarter of the global fleet.
Wärtsilä’s dual-fuel technology was first launched in the early 1990s for use in land-based power plant applications and made its first marine installation appearance a decade later with the 50DF engine. The technology enables the engine to be operated on either natural gas, light fuel oil (LFO), or heavy fuel oil (HFO), and switching between fuels can take place during operation without loss of power or speed.
The first fitting of Wärtsilä’s 50DF engines onboard LNG carriers came in 2006 and quickly set a trend in the industry. Since then, a majority 65 percent of all new LNG carriers have been fitted with Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines.
One of the reasons for the strong success of this particular engine over the alternatives is its propulsion efficiency and environmental advantages, Wärtsilä says. When operating in gas mode, the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions are at least 85 percent below those specified in the current IMO regulations, and CO2 emissions are some 25 percent less than those of a conventional marine engine running strictly on diesel fuel. In addition, the sulphur oxide (SOx) and particle emissions are negligible at almost zero percent.
“This is indeed an important milestone for Wärtsilä, and for the shipping industry as a whole. It confirms not only our leading position in the LNG transportation sector, but also the viability of Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines,”" says Lars Anderson, Vice President, Wärtsilä Ship Power, Merchant. “They have demonstrated that they are a solid and reliable choice for owners and operators, enabling easy adaptation to different sailing patterns, in both arctic and tropical conditions, and to various operational profiles.”
Other marine sectors following the trend
The success of the Wärtsilä 50DF engine is not just limited to LNG carrier market. The engine is increasingly being considered by owners and operators throughout the shipping industry, including the cruise and ferry sector where it is often necessary to operate in strict Emission Control Areas (ECAs). The new Viking Line ferry to operate between Finland and Sweden will be the largest ferry in the world operating on gas. Also the world’s first LNG-fueled product tanker, the converted BIT VIKING, is also now powered by 50DF’s.
Similarly, Wärtsilä says, vessels serving the offshore oil and gas industry are increasingly being fitted with dual-fuel engines where the need for flexibility, fuel efficiency, and compliance are driving the trend.
To date Wärtsilä has sold some 720 DF engines, accumulating more than 5 million running hours.
With environmental issues and fuel economy likely to be the future market drivers, Wärtsilä has adapted by expanding its merchant fleet equipment range to include solutions that address process efficiency and environmental compliance and as a result, is now well positioned as the most suitable systems provider for extended ship power solutions. And now with the acquisition of Hamworthy, Wärtsilä is also making waves in the LPG and LNG carrier markets for the reliquefaction of boil-off gas.