Wärtsilä Announces Full-Scale Ammonia Engine Test

Mike Schuler
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July 1, 2020

Viking Energy. Photo Eidesvik

Finnish technology group Wärtsilä will be conducting what it says it the world’s first long-term, full-scale testing of ammonia fuel in a marine four-stroke combustion engine.

The project, which is made possible with more than $2 million grant from the Norwegian Research Council through the DEMO 2000 program, builds on Wärtsilä’s previous research on ammonia as a potential fuel to help the shipping industry reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is a great example that illustrates the importance of dedicated petroleum R&D. This DEMO 2000 project is another steppingstone for reaching our ambitious climate targets and it is also aligned with our recently published hydrogen strategy. We need to develop and use new technologies that reduce emissions,” said Tina Bru, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

Ammonia has emerged as a promising alternative fuel to help the shipping industry decarbonize according to the International Maritime Organization’s initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ocean shipping by at least 50 percent by 2050. While ammonia is currently derived mainly from fossil sources, its carbon footprint can be nearly eliminated if it is produced using electricity from renewable source.

Back in March, Wärtsilä announced it would move forward with more ammonia fuel testing after promising initial results. Ultimately, Wärtsilä is aiming to develop a complete ammonia fuel solution that comprises engines, fuel supply and storage.

For the full-scale test, Wärtsilä close customer cooperation with Knutsen OAS Shipping AS and Repsol, as well as with the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre. It will involve testing an ammonia driven fuel cell on the Eidesvik Offshore supply vessel, Viking Energy.

The project is expected commence in the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre’s testing facilities at Stord, Norway during the first quarter of 2021.

“We are really excited to further develop and understand the combustion properties of ammonia as a carbon free fuel in one of our multi-fuel engines”, says Egil Hystad, General Manager, Market Innovation at Wärtsilä Marine Business.

“Ammonia storage and supply systems will be designed and developed for maximum personal safety, and in parallel with the Fuel Gas Handling System under development as part of the EU project ShipFC. This project is coordinated by NCE Maritime CleanTech, and it involves an ammonia driven fuel cell which will be tested on the Eidesvik Offshore supply vessel, Viking Energy”, Hystad added.

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