July 8 ------ The Finnish technology group Wärtsilä, is set to start the world’s first long term, full-scale, testing of ammonia as a fuel in a marine four-stroke combustion engine. The test will be run in cooperation with Knutsen OAS Shipping and Repsol, as well as with the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre. The testing is made possible by a 20 million NOK ($2 million) grant from the Norwegian Research Council through the DEMO 2000 program. “We need to develop and use new technologies that reduce emissions”, Tina Bru, Norwegian minister of petroleum and energy said. “We are very happy to support development work that can lead to increased use of ammonia as a fuel in shipping and in the offshore sector. Know-how from this project will also provide important input to the development of regulations for the use of ammonia and other low-carbon fuels”, said Bru.
Ammonia is promising as a carbon-free fuel for marine applications, in view of the maritime industry’s need to fulfil the International Maritime Organization’s vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50 per cent by 2050, Wärtsilä said. Furthermore, ammonia has huge potential for providing green energy to remote power systems, such as offshore installations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Development work by Wärtsilä, as it prepares for the use of ammonia as a fuel, continues with this testing program, which will be the world`s first full-scale four-stroke combustion engine test.
The project will 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. He added that the 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 noted. Wärtsilä, as part of its development work on future fuels, has studied the use of ammonia as a future carbon-free fuel through the ZEEDS initiative.
The company’s first ammonia combustions tests were commenced in Vaasa, Finland, in winter 2020, and will continue with this long-term testing at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre facilities in Stord, the company said in its statement. The center is part of the Norwegian Catapult program that facilitates a national infrastructure for innovation. The program is run by SIVA in close cooperation with Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Research Council and financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.
The full-scale fuel testing program can pave the way for ammonia engines to be used in real vessel operations within a few years, and several shipowners have shown interest in this possibility. It will also provide important insights into the long-term effect of an ammonia fueled engine in relation to other systems and components in a vessel, including the required safety measures. “A future implementation of ammonia as a carbon-free fuel, combined with clean energy production from offshore wind or other renewable energy sources can be the start of a new industrial era for the Norwegian industry”, Egil Hystad pointed out.